The Officer Who Killed Philando Castile Said He Felt Threatened By The Smell Of Marijuana

The officer who shot and killed Philando Castile claimed he felt threatened by the smell of marijuana in Castile’s car, according to newly released transcripts.

In an interview after the fatal traffic stop, Minnesota police officer Jeronimo Yanez said that Castile’s apparent willingness to use cannabis in front of his young daughter and girlfriend made Yanez think the 32-year-old was dangerous.  

“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?” he said.

The statement appeared in the transcript of Yanez’s questioning by investigators last July, in which Yanez also failed to reveal that Castile had said he was “not reaching” for his handgun.

Dash camera footage released with the transcripts clearly picks up Castile saying: “I do have a firearm on me”, a gun he was licensed to carry. Yanez warns Castile not to reach for the gun and pull it out, to which Castile replies “I’m not pulling it out.”

Yanez proceeds to reach into the vehicle and fire seven bullets, killing Castile. Castile can be heard screaming “I wasn’t reaching” as Yanez yells “fuck” over and over again.

Prosecutors argued that Castile was attempting to reach for his wallet so he could show Yanez his driver’s license, which Yanez had asked him to reveal seconds before the shooting.

On Friday, Yanez was acquitted of manslaughter and other charges stemming from the shooting by a Minnesota jury. He was fired by the St. Anthony police department shortly after being found not guilty.

In the transcript, Yanez makes reference to the smell of marijuana multiple times, claiming it made him question why Castile was carrying a handgun.  

“Being that the … inside of the vehicle smelled like marijuana ... I didn’t know if he was keeping it on him for protection, for, from a, a drug dealer or anything like that or any other people trying to [steal from] him.”

h/t The Guardian

Banner image: Richard Tsong-Taatarii/Star Tribune via AP

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