The former officer who is accused of killing Philando Castile said he had no choice but to shoot the 32-year-old man.
Jeronimo Yanez took the stand on Friday to explain why a routine traffic stop turned deadly last summer in Falcon Heights, Minnesota. He is now facing second-degree manslaughter charges as well as two counts of reckless discharge of a firearm after he fatally shot Castile seven times.
According to NBC affiliate KARE11, Yanez broke down several times in court during the last day of testimony, recounting the events that took place before he opened fire.
"I was scared to death. I thought I was going to die. My family popped into my head. My wife. My baby girl,” he said. “I was forced to engage Mr. Castile. I did not want to shoot Mr. Castile. Those were not my intentions."
On July 6, 2016, Yanez pulled over Castile who is in a car with his girlfriend, Diamond Reynolds, and her 4-year-old daughter. The former officer told the jury he pulled the vehicle over because Castile fit the description of a robbery suspect, who was black, in his early 30s, and had dreadlocks.
After Yanez approached the car, Castile reportedly informed the officer he had a gun permit and was armed. Yanez told the jury he had instructed Castile to not reach for his weapon, but his demands were ignored. The officer said he saw the man continue to go for the gun, so he decided to act fast and shoot.
While her boyfriend sat in the car wounded, Reynolds took out her phone and livestreamed the incident. In the video, she claimed Castile had informed the officer about the firearm as well as his license to carry.
"He let the officer know that he had a firearm and he was reaching for his wallet," Reynolds said in the Facebook Live video. "And the officer just shot him in his arm."
The footage shows Yanez screaming in the aftermath: “I told him not to reach for it! I told him to get his hand off it!" Reynolds responded: “You told him to get his ID, sir. He was just getting his license and registration." Dash cam footage caught audio of Castile telling the officer he wasn’t pulling out the gun.
Castile was pronounced dead at the Hennepin County Medical Center shortly after.
The shooting sparked nationwide protests, with many insisting it was another instance of police brutality against the black community.
The jury is expected to begin deliberations this Monday (June 12).