A second juror in the trial of Officer Jeronimo Yanez has come forward to explain how she, and her fellow jurors, came to acquit Yanez in the fatal shooting of Philando Castile.
Bonita Schultz says she thought she was prepared to see the dashcam video of Yanez shoot Castile, but when it played in court for the first time it was still difficult to process.
“It took my breath away when I first saw it," Schultz said. "It surprised me.”
Throughout the trial Schultz says she fluctuated between a guilty and not-guilty verdict.
“Oh, sure. I think we all did. We went back and forth,” Schultz said. “By the time deliberations started I was pretty much ‘not guilty,’ but I was still open.”
Though another juror, Denny Ploussard, told KARE 11 that early on, the jury was 10-2 in favor of acquittal, Bonita says it was closer than that.
"It was pretty even to start with but within a couple of hours it went to 8-4 (not guilty), and it stayed 8-4 for a couple days," Schultz said.
She says the split wasn't based on gender or race and she says the case also wasn't examined that way during deliberations. She says they did touch on the topic with the two black jurors at the beginning, specifically in relation to the stop that proceeded the shooting.
"One of the first things that we clarified and asked (the two black jurors) is if they felt that it was racially profiled," Schultz said. "Neither one of them felt that it was."
She says the jury largely struggled with Diamond Reynolds' credibility in court, but she says the case ultimately came down to the dashcam video, specifically, the part that nobody could see. Philando Castile's final movements in the car.
"The big question was, is he (pulling) out a gun? What was he bringing out? That was our question," Schultz said.
Officer Yanez argued that he opened fire because he saw Castile begin to pull out his gun, and Schultz says the jury knew the trial hinged on his credibility.
"Was he telling the truth? You don't know," Schultz said. "The state didn't prove he was dishonest."
Schultz says the reaction by the Castile family in court was understandable. She says she wishes there had been a better answer but she says they had to consider the charges at hand.
“I hope that the Castile family, when it gets right down to it, realizes that we didn’t take this lightly,” Schultz said. "We looked at it, analyzed it, and we just didn’t say he’s not guilty because he’s a cop. We would have liked to say he’s guilty, just as much as we would have like to say not guilty but it came right down to, the state did not prove their case.”
Schultz says no matter the verdict, she knows nothing will change the truth for Yanez.
“He has to live with the fact that he killed somebody and that’s not going to go away," she said.
Schultz says she hopes more police departments adopt the use of body cameras because it might have provided the one piece of evidence the jury felt they were missing.