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Prosecutors: Cop who shot Philando Castile must face trial

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Officer Jeronimo Yanez
Booking photo for St. Anthony police officer Jeronimo Yanez
Ramsey County Sheriff's Office

Ramsey County prosecutors Wednesday urged a judge to reject a motion to dismiss charges against the St. Anthony police officer who shot and killed Philando Castile during a July traffic stop, saying the facts in the case "can only be resolved by a jury at trial."

A month after defense attorneys asked that charges be dropped against officer Jeronimo Yanez, prosecutors in their response argued that Yanez's conduct during the traffic stop was a deviation from what a "reasonable officer" would've done.

According to court documents, Yanez claimed he believed Castile was involved in a nearby armed robbery four days earlier. Surveillance photos showed the two suspects had dreadlocks, glasses, baseball caps and guns.

"Although Castile was the same race as the robbery suspects, nothing else tied him to the robbery," prosecutors said in the motion, adding that Yanez didn't notify dispatchers he was stopping a robbery suspect and didn't conduct a high-risk stop and therefore didn't follow standard protocol for felony stops .

Prosecutors also say Yanez never asked Castile if he was armed and that Castile volunteered that information on his own. Additionally, they said Yanez didn't warn his partner of the presence of a gun, didn't direct Castile to "freeze" when he found out he was carrying a firearm and made inconsistent statements later about whether or not he saw the gun

The motion filed by Yanez's attorneys in December argued that Castile was negligent in his own death because he was driving after smoking marijuana and did not follow the officer's commands.

Yanez faces a second-degree manslaughter charge and felony firearms charges in connection with the shooting. He waived his appearance for a court hearing Wednesday as his attorneys and prosecutors met with Judge William H. Leary to discuss next steps.

Leary set the next court date for Feb. 15, when the defense and prosecution will argue the motion to dismiss. Leary will then decide either to dismiss or move forward with the case after hearing attorneys' arguments.

Yanez has not yet entered a plea. His attorneys — Earl Gray, Paul Engh and Tom Kelly — declined to comment Wednesday.

Correction (Jan. 18, 2017): An earlier version of this story transposed Castile's and Yanez's names in one reference. The story has been updated.