Officer in Castile shooting death pleads not guilty; trial date set

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

Updated: 10:07 a.m. | Posted: 4 a.m.

The St. Anthony police officer charged in Philando Castile's July shooting death pleaded not guilty in Ramsey County District Court Monday to all charges filed against him.

Jeronimo Yanez, 28, faces a second-degree manslaughter charge for fatally shooting Castile, 32, during a traffic stop in the Twin Cities suburb of Falcon Heights. He also faces two felony firearms charges for firing his gun into the car, where Castile's girlfriend, Diamond Reynolds, and her young daughter were sitting.

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Monday's hearing lasted less than four minutes.

Yanez walked into the courtroom flanked by his three attorneys. He spoke clearly and loudly when he answered Ramsey County District Judge William Leary III's questions about waiving his right to have the criminal complaint read in court.

"Your honor, I waive that right," he said.

And: "Your honor, I plead 'not guilty,'" when the judge outlined the charges against him.

Leary set a trial date of May 30. Questionnaires for potential jurors will be distributed on the first day of the trial. The next day, potential jurors will answer those questions in court.

In the meantime, Yanez is not in custody and remains on paid administrative leave.

Earlier this month, Leary rejected a motion by Yanez's attorneys to dismiss the charges against him.

The defense has argued that Yanez was justified in the shooting, arguing that Castile disobeyed the officer's order not to reach for a gun that he had in the car with him. They contend that Yanez shot Castile because he saw the gun and feared for his life.

Prosecutors say that after Yanez pulled Castile over for a broken taillight, Castile calmly told the officer that he had a gun with him. Yanez told Castile not to reach for the gun, they said, and Castile told the officer he wasn't reaching for it. That's when Yanez fired his gun seven times.

Reynolds streamed the aftermath of the shooting streamed on Facebook Live.

Castile's death came on the heels of a number of high-profile killings of African-American men by police. It sparked protests across the region, including a temporary protest camp outside the Minnesota Governor's Residence in St. Paul.