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Officer pleads not guilty in Philando Castile shooting death

By Paul Walsh Star Tribune (Minneapolis)

MINNEAPOLIS – The police officer charged with fatally shooting Philando Castile last summer in Falcon Heights, Minn., pleaded not guilty Monday.

Jeronimo Yanez, on leave from the St. Anthony Police Department, entered his plea to manslaughter and other charges in Ramsey County District Court.

During Yanez’s appearance in court, a hearing was scheduled for April 3, as well as a tentative starting date for a trial of May 30.

Earlier this month, Judge William Leary III denied a defense request to dismiss the case.

Defense attorneys have said that charges against Yanez should be dropped because Castile, who is black, put himself at risk by allegedly consuming marijuana and disobeying police orders.

Prosecutors have argued that Yanez, who is Hispanic, acted unreasonably when he fired on Castile seven times.

Yanez, 28, a St. Anthony police officer, was charged Nov. 16 with second-degree manslaughter and two felony counts of dangerous discharge of a firearm for killing Castile, 32, during a traffic stop in Falcon Heights on July 6, and endangering Castile’s girlfriend, Diamond Reynolds, and her 4-year-old daughter, who were in the car at the time.

Reynolds streamed the shooting’s aftermath live on Facebook. The killing set off widespread protests and came in the midst of several instances across the country of black men having fatal encounters with police.

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