Jury finds Minnesota cop not guilty in shooting of black motorist Philando Castile

ST. PAUL, Minn., June 16 (Reuters) - A jury on Friday found the Minnesota police officer who fatally shot a black motorist during a traffic stop last year not guilty of second-degree manslaughter.

St. Anthony Police Department officer Jeronimo Yanez was charged after he fatally shot PhilandoCastile, 32, last July. The aftermath was streamed on social media by the driver's girlfriend, who was sitting in the passenger seat, and the incident drew national attention and led to weeks of protests in St. Paul and Minneapolis.

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A screenshot of the live video shot by Lavish Reynolds and posted to Facebook after police shot Philando Castile. 
A screenshot of the live video shot by Diamond Reynolds and posted to Facebook after police shot Philando Castile. 
A screenshot of the live video shot by Diamond Reynolds and posted to Facebook after police shot Philando Castile. 
A profile photo uploaded to Philando Castile's Facebook page. 
A profile photo uploaded to Philando Castile's Facebook page. 
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Yanez had testified that he was afraid for his life and that Castile did not follow his orders.

Castile's mother, Valerie Castile, speaking to reporters outside the court after the verdict, said: "I'm mad as hell right now. Yes, I am. My first born son died. ... Just because he was a police officer that makes it OK."

Valerie Castile, who abruptly left the courtroom after the verdict was read, said the verdict shows that "the system continues to fail black people."

Castile's sister, Allysza Castile, who spoke after her mother, said: "I will never have faith in the system."

In the courtroom after the verdict was read, people could be heard cursing and one woman sobbed.

RELATED: Protests after the Philando Castile, Alton Sterling shootings

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Protests after the Philando Castile, Alton Sterling shootings
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Protests after the Philando Castile, Alton Sterling shootings
NEW YORK, NY - JULY 7: People hold banners and chant slogans as they march from Union Square Park to Grand Central to protest the killing of 3 black men by police in 48 hours, in Manhattan, New York on July 7, 2016. (Photo by Volkan Furuncu/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - JULY 7: Police take security measures as people hold banners and chant slogans as they march from Union Square Park to Grand Central to protest the killing of 3 black men by police in 48 hours, in Manhattan, New York on July 7, 2016. (Photo by Volkan Furuncu/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - JULY 7: People hold banners and chant slogans as they march from Union Square Park to Grand Central to protest the killing of 3 black men by police in 48 hours, in Manhattan, New York on July 7, 2016. (Photo by Volkan Furuncu/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - JULY 7: People hold banners and chant slogans as they march from Union Square Park to Grand Central to protest the killing of 3 black men by police in 48 hours, in Manhattan, New York on July 7, 2016. (Photo by Volkan Furuncu/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - JULY 7: People hold banners and chant slogans as they march from Union Square Park to Grand Central to protest the killing of 3 black men by police in 48 hours, in Manhattan, New York on July 7, 2016. (Photo by Volkan Furuncu/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - JULY 7: People hold banners and chant slogans as they march from Union Square Park to Grand Central to protest the killing of 3 black men by police in 48 hours, in Manhattan, New York on July 7, 2016. (Photo by Volkan Furuncu/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - JULY 7: People hold banners and chant slogans as they march from Union Square Park to Grand Central to protest the killing of 3 black men by police in 48 hours, in Manhattan, New York on July 7, 2016. (Photo by Volkan Furuncu/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - JULY 7: People hold banners and chant slogans as they march from Union Square Park to Grand Central to protest the killing of 3 black men by police in 48 hours, in Manhattan, New York on July 7, 2016. (Photo by Volkan Furuncu/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - JULY 7: People hold banners and chant slogans as they march from Union Square Park to Grand Central to protest the killing of 3 black men by police in 48 hours, in Manhattan, New York on July 7, 2016. (Photo by Volkan Furuncu/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - JULY 07: Activists march along 42nd Street and 11th Avenue in response to the recent fatal shootings of two black men by police, July 7, 2016 in New York City. Protests and public outcry have grown in the days following the deaths of Alton Sterling on July 5, 2016 in Baton Rouge, Louisiana and Philando Castile on July 6, 2016, in Falcon Heights, Minnesota. (Photo by James Devaney/Getty Images)
Demonstators as they march through the city and call for justice for Alton Sterling and Philandro Castile as they rally on July 7, 2016 in New York. Black motorist Philando Castile, 32, a school cafeteria worker, was shot at close range by a Minnesota cop and seen bleeding to death in a graphic video shot by his girlfriend that went viral Thursday, the second fatal police shooting to rock America in as many days. / AFP / TIMOTHY A. CLARY (Photo credit should read TIMOTHY A. CLARY/AFP/Getty Images)
Demonstators are arrested by the NYPD after they march through the city and call for justice for Alton Sterling and Philandro Castile in the middle of Times Square July 7, 2016 in New York. Black motorist Philando Castile, 32, a school cafeteria worker, was shot at close range by a Minnesota cop and seen bleeding to death in a graphic video shot by his girlfriend that went viral Thursday, the second fatal police shooting to rock America in as many days. / AFP / TIMOTHY A. CLARY (Photo credit should read TIMOTHY A. CLARY/AFP/Getty Images)
BATON ROUGE, LA - JULY 07: Protesters wave signs in front of the Triple S Mart on July 7, 2016 in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. Alton Sterling was shot by a police officer in front of the Triple S Food Mart in Baton Rouge on July 5th, leading the Department of Justice to open a civil rights investigation. (Photo by Mark Wallheiser/Getty Images)
Demonstrators gather at the Governor's Mansion in St. Paul, Minnesota, on July 7, 2016, to protest the latest shooting of a black man by police in Falcon Heights, Minessota. Philando Castile, 32, a school cafeteria worker, was shot by police after being pulled over while driving. The incident was captured in a video viewed by some two million people Thursday, as civil rights investigators probed a similar incident in Louisiana. / AFP / Joy Powell (Photo credit should read JOY POWELL/AFP/Getty Images)
People take part in a protest for the killing of Alton Sterling and Philando Castile during a march along Manhattan's streets in New York July 7, 2016. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid
People take part in a protest against the killings of Alton Sterling and Philando Castile during a march through Times Square in New York July 7, 2016. REUTERS/Eduardo Munoz
A group of protesters demonstrate near a prayer vigil in memory of Alton Sterling, who was shot dead by police, in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, U.S. July 7, 2016. REUTERS/Jonathan Bachman
A woman chants out of the window of a bus as a group of protesters demonstrate near a prayer vigil in memory of Alton Sterling, who was shot dead by police, in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, U.S. July 7, 2016. REUTERS/Jonathan Bachman
A group of protesters demonstrate near a prayer vigil in memory of Alton Sterling, who was shot dead by police, in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, U.S. July 7, 2016. REUTERS/Jonathan Bachman
A group of protesters demonstrate outside of a church during a prayer vigil in memory of Alton Sterling, who was shot dead by police, in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, U.S. July 7, 2016. REUTERS/Jonathan Bachman
Berton Boreaux holds a sign on the hood of a bus as a group of protesters demonstrate near a prayer vigil in memory of Alton Sterling, who was shot dead by police, in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, U.S. July 7, 2016. REUTERS/Jonathan Bachman
People gather outside the Governor's residence to protest the fatal shooting of Philando Castile by Minneapolis area police during a traffic stop on Wednesday, in St. Paul, Minnesota, U.S., July 7, 2016. REUTERS/Adam Bettcher
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A rally was planned for Friday night at the state capitol. St. Paul Mayor Chris Coleman said that centers would be open around the city for community discussion.

"As people across our city, state and country react to the jury's verdict, I urge each of us to move forward in a way that is peaceful and respectful of everyone – residents, demonstrators and police officers alike," Coleman said in a statement.

The shooting in the St. Paul suburb of Falcon Heights, like similar incidents across the United States, fueled public debate about the appropriate use of force by law enforcement against minorities.

During his testimony, Yanez said he feared for his life after Castile disregarded his commands and began reaching for a firearm that Castile had disclosed he had in his possession.

"I was scared to death. I thought I was going to die," Yanez said last week in response to questions from his attorney. "I had no other choice."

Prosecutors said Yanez was not justified in firing his gun, saying Castile was courteous and non-threatening.

(Writing and additional reporting by Timothy Mclaughlin; Editing by Leslie Adler)

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