Attorneys representing the Minnesota police officer who killed Philando Castile during a traffic stop in July are claiming that Castile was negligent in his own death and are asking for the charges to be dropped.
Court documents filed Wednesday and obtained by the Associated Press charge that Castile was high on marijuana when he was stopped by St. Anthony, Minn., Police Officer Jeronimo Yanez and did not obey the officer's commands. Attorneys say that if Castile was negligent, the charges against Yanez should be dropped.
Castile, who was black, was killed July 6 after being pulled over in Falcon Heights, Minn. The aftermath of the shooting was captured in a Facebook Live video by Castile’s girlfriend, who was in the car along with her young daughter. Castile, 32, was shot by Yanez after telling him that he was armed and licensed to carry a weapon.
Last month, prosecutors said that Yanez acted unreasonably and was not justified in his use of deadly force, but he was charged only with manslaughter.
According to AP, defense attorney Earl Gray wrote in court documents that Castile never told Yanez that he had a permit to carry, and that objective review of squad-car video confirms not only Yanez’s account of self-defense, “but more importantly why Mr. Castile himself was culpably negligent and was the substantial cause of his own demise.”
"He should not even have been driving while under the influence. He should have showed [sic] his hands. He should not have reached for the handgun," Gray wrote.
In case you need a translation, the defense is saying that Philando Castile caused his own death. There was no way for Yanez to know whether or not Castile had used marijuana prior to the traffic stop; that information would come from a toxicology report performed by a medical professional at a later time.
Further, whether he was under the influence of marijuana or not, all reports in the aftermath of the shooting indicated that the shooting was unprovoked and, as the prosecution says, Yanez acted unreasonably. To try to shift the blame to the victim in order to get the charges dropped is disgusting.
Gray wrote that autopsy results showed Castile had high levels of THC in his blood, and a defense expert determined that he was intoxicated. AP reports that Gray said that explains why Castile didn’t follow directions, stared straight ahead and didn’t show his hands.
Gray wrote, "How could it be that Officer Yanez knew or could have known that when Mr. Castile reached for his gun he would not shoot a police officer dead."
Castile’s family has claimed that he was racially profiled, and according to AP, Glenda Hatchett, an attorney for the family, said that the charges speak for themselves and she had no further comment on the claims being made by the defense.
Read more at the Associated Press.