A transcript released Tuesday by Minnesota’s Bureau of Criminal Apprehension reveals that former officer Jeronimo Yanez originally told investigators he shot Philando Castile seven times because the smell of marijuana made him fear for his life.
The shooting death of Philando Castile sparked outrage across the nation last July when Castile’s fiance, Diamond Reynolds, live streamed the moments following the shooting to Facebook, calmly explaining the situation while Yanez kept his gun trained on Castile, who lay dying next to her.
Yanez was acquitted of all charges last Friday.
The interview contained in the transcript was a point of contention during the trial, as prosecutors were permitted to reference its contents when cross-examining Yanez but were not permitted to introduce it as evidence, and jurors were denied their request to see the transcript during deliberations.
During the interview on July 6th, the day after the shooting, Yanez told investigators that he didn’t remember how many rounds he let off or exactly what he said, but he specifically remembered his particularly complex line of thinking. As he told investigators:
“I thought, I was gonna die and I thought if he’s, if he has the, the guts and the audacity to smoke marijuana in front of the five-year-old girl and risk her lungs and risk her life by giving her secondhand smoke and the front seat passenger doing the same thing then what, what care does he give about me.”
Although Yanez pulled Castile over for a broken taillight, the former officer claims his “wide-set nose” matched the description of an armed robbery suspect, which he attempted to link to the marijuana smell.
“Being that … the inside of the vehicle smelled like marijuana um I didn’t know if he was keeping it on him for protection, for, from a, a drug dealer or anything like that,” he said.
The transcript released on Tuesday was just a small part of the information collected throughout the investigation. Also released was police dash-cam footage of the exchange, which shows Yanez approaching the vehicle and informing Castile he has been pulled over for a broken brake light, opening fire seconds after Castile is heard telling the officer he has a gun.
Castile’s family plans to file a civil suit against Yanez. “My son loved this city and this city killed my son and the murderer gets away,” Valerie Castile, Philando’s mother, said at a press conference after hearing the verdict.
Watch the dashcam footage of the stop:
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