iStock/Thinkstock(ST. PAUL, Minn.) — The Minnesota police officer who shot and killed Philando Castile made his initial court appearance Friday on a manslaughter charge.
St. Anthony police Officer Jeronimo Yanez did not enter a plea during the quick hearing at the Ramsey County courthouse. He wore a gray suit with a white shirt and black tie and was accompanied by defense attorneys Thomas Kelly and Earl Gray. At least six people sat in the courtroom’s front row, which was designated for Yanez’s family.
Judge Mark Ireland allowed Yanez to be released on his own recognizance. He will next appear in court on Dec. 19.
Kelly told ABC News that Yanez’s defense team is “disappointed” that the officer was charged.
“I am concerned about the public statements of [Ramsey County Attorney] John Choi in which he claimed no reasonable officer would have used deadly force,” Kelly said. “We find those comments to be unnecessary and unfairly prejudicial.”
Castile’s first cousin, who was in the courtroom, said she had “butterflies” and was “shaking” during Yanez’s appearance, which she said brought up “a lot of emotions.”
“It’s a heavy wait for the next appearance,” she told ABC News. “… I just want justice served for my cousin.”
Tyrone Terrill, president of the African-American Leadership Council in St. Paul, said the “bottom line” is that Yanez ends up in jail.
“Any reasonable human being knows there was no reason for that officer to shoot Philando Castile,” Terrill said, calling Castile’s death “senseless.”
Castile was killed on July 6 during a traffic stop in Falcon Heights, a suburb outside St. Paul. His girlfriend, Diamond Reynolds, and Reynolds’ now 5-year-old daughter were in the car when Castile was shot while sitting in the driver’s seat.
Reynolds broadcast the aftermath of the shooting live on Facebook. She explains in the video that the officer “asked [Castile] for license and registration.”
“He told him that it was in his wallet but he had a pistol on him because he is licensed to carry,” Reynolds says in the dramatic video. “The officer said, ‘Don’t move.’ As he was putting his hands back up, the officer shot him in the arm four or five times.”
A uniformed officer can be seen in the video pointing a gun at the couple from outside the car. The officer can be heard saying, “I told him not to reach for it. I told him to get his hand out.”
In a statement obtained by ABC News after the shooting in July, Kelly said the incident had nothing to do with race.
On Wednesday, Yanez was charged with second-degree manslaughter as well as two felony counts of intentional discharge of a dangerous weapon that endangered the safety of the two other passengers in the car, Reynolds and her daughter, who was 4 years old at the time.
The manslaughter charge carries a maximum sentence of 10 years and a $20,000 fine, while the remaining charges each carry a maximum sentence of 5 years and a $10,000 fine.
After Yanez was charged, Reynolds told ABC News that she wished he had been charged with murder instead of manslaughter.
“Murder to the highest extent of the law would be more suitable to this case because this was my best friend,” Reynolds said, adding that “nothing” could fix the situation or bring her boyfriend back.
Castile’s mother, Valerie Castile, said the family is “pleased” with the prosecutor’s decision to charge Castile.
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