Last year, St. Anthony police officer Jeronimo Yanez shot and killed Philando Castile after stopping his vehicle in search of a robbery suspect. The driver of the vehicle, Ms. Reynolds, filmed Castile in her passenger seat, bloodied and rapidly expiring from his injuries. Moments later, she posted it to Facebook, where the incident exploding into national headlines and sparked major controversy and fears of police brutality.
Now, Mr. Yanez is going to trial in Minneapolis on manslaughter charges filed by state prosecutors. The question that is on every prosecutor’s and criminal defense attorney’s mind in Minnesota, however, is whether or not Yanez can receive a fair trial.
The CBS Minnesota news group recently talked to Attorney Joseph Tamburino – note: he is not handling this case to any extent – of Caplan & Tamburino Law Firm, P.A. about the case and the concern of a fair trial’s likelihood. As Tamburino pointed out, jury selection, which is set to begin today, has to be intensive and thorough, weeding out anyone who might have had negative experiences with the police in the past. He also expressed that jurors need to be able to try to understand Yanez’s decision to fire upon the seated Castile, who had stated he wanted to reach for his license to carry. Yanez allegedly shot Castile thinking that the man intended to grab his gun, not the license.
The prevalence of the aftermath video all across social media has also undoubtedly tampered with preconceived notions of the officer. There could very well be no one in Minneapolis who has not seen the footage and already formed a strong opinion, one way or another, as to what happened. The video is also difficult to assess as evidence for either side, as Tamburino mentioned, due to the fact that it does not actually show the officer’s weapon firing, nor does it show the events immediately prior.
If interested, you can read the full CBS Minnesota article and interview by clicking here. If you require a Minneapolis criminal defense attorney for a case of your own, then you are encouraged to contact our firm to request a free case evaluation. We take calls 24/7 because we know that an arrest or criminal accusation can happen at any time – just dial 612.444.5020 when you need us.