Cop Pleads Not Guilty in Castile Shooting Death

ST. PAUL, Minn. (CN) – The Minnesota police officer who fatally shot Philando Castile during a traffic stop last year pleaded not guilty to manslaughter during a pretrial hearing Monday.

Jeronimo Yanez, 28, pleaded not guilty to one count of second-degree manslaughter and two counts of dangerous discharge of a firearm that Ramsey County Attorney John Choi charged him with in November 2016.

The 10-minute omnibus hearing was heard by Ramsey County District Judge William H. Leary III Monday morning.

Two weeks ago, Judge Leary denied Yanez’s motion to dismiss the charges, setting the stage for his trial.

Yanez was charged for the killing of Castile during a traffic stop in July 2016. The aftermath was live-streamed on social media by Diamond Reynolds, a passenger in the vehicle, along with her 4-year-old daughter in the backseat.

Yanez entered the courtroom about five minutes before the hearing started. He wore a dark gray suit with a pale yellow tie. He sat between his three attorneys with good posture and his hands folded in his lap, though not completely relaxed.

Prior to his pleading of not guilty, Yanez waived his right to have Leary read the complaint against him aloud.

Leary set the trial date for May 30.

Both Castile and Yanez’s family members were present at the hearing. Outside of the courtroom, Yanez’s brother declined a request to comment.

John Thompson, Castile’s friend and co-worker at St. Paul Public Schools, expressed his commitment to not only fighting for Castile but activism in general.

“It’s a never ending battle and I’m up for the challenge. It’s something about Philando that just lit a fire under me that makes me want to see positive change for everyone. I definitely don’t want to see another Philando in this state. Period. Not just in the city of St. Paul or Minneapolis. I don’t want to see another Philando in this state,” Thompson said. “ Any way that I can stand up and say enough of this injustice, and shine a light on the injustice, and somebody will hear me and say ‘c’mon John, I want to help you change the narrative,’ that’s what I’m going to do.”