Jeronimo Yanez shot Castile as he sat in the car with his girlfriend and her daughter.
The officer who fatally shot Philando Castile during a traffic stop in July 2016 testified in court Friday that he fired his gun because he feared for his life.
Jeronimo Yanez, 29, said that after Castile informed the former St. Anthony, Minnesota, cop that he had a licensed firearm in the car, he told Castile not to reach for it. Yanez said that he saw Castile, 32, reaching for his gun in his pocket and reacted.
“I had no other choice. I didn’t want to shoot Mr. Castile. That wasn’t my intention,” Yanez said, according to local outlet WCCO. “I thought I was going to die.”
According to Castile’s girlfriend Diamond Reynolds, who testified on Tuesday, he wasn’t reaching for the gun. Reynolds, who livestreamed the moments after Yanez fired his gun, told jurors that Castile posed no threat and he was reaching for his seatbelt to get his wallet just before Yanez pulled the trigger.
Reynolds said that as Yanez continued to point his weapon into the car after firing several shots, she feared for her safety and that of her 4-year-old daughter, who was also in the car. So she began recording.
“I know that people are not protected against the police,” she said, according to Minneapolis-based reporter Jon Collins. “And I wanted everyone to see, that if I died in front of my daughter, everyone would know the truth.”
The footage, which has been viewed millions of times, shows the Latino officer shouting expletives while pointing his gun through the car window at Castile’s bloodied body. The video sparked local protests against police brutality.
Yanez is facing charges for second-degree murder and dangerous discharge of a firearm. Closing arguments are set to begin on Monday.