Protests erupted in Minnesota Friday after a local twin cities police officer was found not guilty in a controversial shooting death last year.
Police officer Jeronimo Yanez, who worked in St. Anthony — a suburb of the twin cities — was acquitted Friday on manslaughter charges in the very controversial July 2016 shooting death of Philando Castile, which quickly went viral because it was recorded live on Facebook.
The acquittal comes at a time when police tactics and use of lethal force are under extreme scrutiny. Critics say Yanez’s quick decision to use lethal force against Castile, a black man, represents a systematic problem in American policing, namely that black people are seen as criminals — even if they’re not.
But according to one of the jurors who found Yanez not guilty on Friday, even the jury’s black members said Yanez was legally justified in his decision to use lethal force against Castile.
Juror Dennis Ploussard told the Associated Press that early in jury’s deliberations, the panel of 12 was split 10-2 in favor of acquittal. Though he didn’t identify the two holdouts, he explained to the AP that it wasn’t the jury’s only two black members.
Ploussard explained that deliberations proved to be “very, very hard” but the two holdouts finally agreed that Yanez was legally justified in his actions.
According to KTSP-TV, the judge tasked the jurors to determine the level of culpable negligence demonstrated by Yanez in his decision to use lethal force against Castile.
More from KTSP:
Ramsey County District Court Judge William H. Leary III defined culpable negligence in his jury instructions as “intentional conduct that the defendant may not have intended to be harmful, but that an ordinary and reasonable prudent person would recognize as involving a strong probability of injury to others,” adding the concept includes gross negligence coupled with an element recklessness.
In addition to the second-degree manslaughter charge, Yanez was also acquitted of two lesser charges of endangering the safety of Castile’s girlfriend and young daughter, who were in the car when Castile was shot and killed.
The jury was comprised of seven men and five women. They began deliberations following closing arguments on Monday.