Police car video of a Minnesota officer shooting a black motorist, whose dying moments were livestreamed on Facebook, was made public for the first time today, days after the officer was acquitted at trial. The jarring footage captures the fateful exchange between Philando Castile, a 32-year-old black motorist, and police officer Jeronimo Yanez in an incident that sparked nationwide protests last year.
The dash-cam video — part of a trove of documents, images and audio from the investigation — shows Yanez approaching Castile’s car and explaining that he was pulled over for broken brake lights. Thirty seconds later, Castile says, “Sir, I have to tell you I do have a firearm on me.”
Castile had a legal permit to carry a gun. The officer responds, “Don’t reach for it then,” and Castile can be heard attempting to explain what he is reaching for.
The conversation lasts just eight seconds, with Yanez interrupting twice saying, “Don’t pull it out.” Yanez then shoots seven times into the driver’s side of the vehicle, with the first shots at such close range that his weapon is partially inside the car cabin.
Watch the Video here:
The incident — one in a series of high-profile shootings of African-Americans by police — stunned the nation after Castile’s final moments were livestreamed on Facebook by his girlfriend Diamond Reynolds, as blood spread on Castile’s shirt. Prosecutors would later say that Yanez had thought Castile resembled a suspect in a nearby armed robbery a few days earlier.
Reynolds said Castile was reaching for his wallet and identification when he was shot. But the police officer later told investigators that he feared for his life.
In the video, as emergency medical personnel are working on Castile who is laying on the street, Yanez can be heard off camera recounting the events of the shooting.
“[Castile] was just staring straight ahead and I was getting nervous,” Yanez says, his voice sounding distressed. “I told him not to reach for it,” he says.
The 29-year-old police officer was acquitted last Friday of second-degree manslaughter and of two felony counts of intentional discharge of a dangerous weapon. The acquittal led to renewed protests in Minnesota, with 18 people arrested Saturday after blocking a major highway near the courthouse in the capital city of St Paul.
Federal prosecutors said they are assessing the case to see if it warrants further review.