A woman who began streaming video on Facebook immediately after her boyfriend was shot by police in suburban Minneapolis, Minn., says he had been stopped for a broken tail light — and that he was licensed to carry a gun. The killing of Philando Castile, 32, is the second fatal encounter between police and a black man to gain national attention this week.
The graphic video, which shows Castile suffering from a wound to his chest area, his shirt bloodied as he slumps in the car, has sparked outrage and protests in Falcon Heights, Minn., not far from where Castile worked as a cafeteria supervisor at a Montessori school in St. Paul, where the school district said Thursday that its staff is grieving his "tragic death."
Minnesota's Bureau of Criminal Apprehension is investigating, and Gov. Mark Dayton has asked the federal Justice Department to examine the case. Today, Castile's mother, Valerie, said that while her son tried to live by the law, "he was killed by the law."
Castile's girlfriend, Diamond Reynolds — who uses the name Lavish Reynolds online — began streaming video to Facebook from the car in which she'd been riding with Castile and her 4-year-old daughter.
We'll embed the video here, with the warning that it contains images that viewers might find disturbing. You can also see it online.
"Stay with me," Reynolds says at the start of the video, as her boyfriend clutches his right side.
"We got pulled over for a busted tail light in the back," Reynolds says, beginning to tell her story in a video that lasts for nearly 10 minutes. "The police just ... he's covered."
"They killed my boyfriend," she says as Castile sits in the car, occasionally crying out. "He's licensed to carry. He was trying to get out his ID and his wallet out his pocket. And he let the officer know that he was — he had a firearm, and he was reaching for his wallet. And the officer just shot him in his arm."
Reynolds is then interrupted by the shouts of a police officer who tells her to keep her hands where he can see them. As he speaks, he's pointing the gun inside the car.
"I told him not to reach for it!" the officer yells, as he seems to take deep breaths. "I told him to get his hands up."
"You told him to get his ID, sir — his driver's license," a remarkably composed Reynolds answers.
She then looks at her boyfriend and says, "Oh, my God, please don't tell me he's dead. Please don't tell me my boyfriend just went like that."
The officer, who works for the St. Anthony, Minn., police department, then tells her to keep her hands where he can see them.
"Please don't tell me this, Lord, please Jesus don't tell me that he's gone," Reynolds says. She later adds, "Please officer, don't tell me that you just did this to him. You shot four bullets into him, sir."
More than a minute into the video, other police officers order Reynolds out of the car. She complies — asking about her daughter as she does so (the video shows that the girl is being held in the arms of an officer).
A police officer then orders Reynolds to get on her knees, where we hear the sound of handcuffs being placed on her. Her phone is tossed onto the ground, but continues to record. The recording then captures the sound of an officer — seemingly the one who shot Castile — periodically yelling an obscenity.
Reynolds' phone is then returned to her as she sits in the back seat of the police car with her little girl. Toward the end of the video, Reynolds becomes more emotional, screaming and saying, "I can't believe they did this."
As Reynolds cries, her daughter tells her, "It's OK mommy. It's OK, I'm right here with you."
Castile was later pronounced dead at a local hospital, family members tell the Star Tribune.
From Minnesota Public Radio:
"The traffic stop came at about 9 p.m. in the area of Larpenteur Avenue and Fry Street in Falcon Heights, near the Minnesota State Fair grounds.
"As news of the shooting spread, some 200 protesters gathered at one point near the site while authorities pursued the investigation, searching for evidence in and around the car."
By 2 a.m., MPR reports, police had removed the car.
Police issued a brief statement last night, with St. Anthony Sgt. Jon Mangseth, who's the interim chief, saying Reynolds and her daughter were not injured, and that they had been "transported to another police department agency."
He added, "There is no other threat to the public at this time."
Mangseth provided few details about the stop, other than to say that the primary officer who pulled the car over and a backup officer were both from St. Anthony.
He added that Minnesota's BCA — the Bureau of Criminal Apprehension — had been called in to investigate "so we can learn what happened."
Mangseth also said, "It's not something that occurs in this area often."
As MPR reports, "The Falcon Heights shooting comes just weeks after federal authorities declined to pursue charges against two Minneapolis officers in the Nov. 15 police shooting death of Jamar Clark. Hennepin County prosecutors also declined to press criminal charges against those officers."
The fatal police encounter in Minnesota also comes close on the heels of a police shooting in Baton Rouge earlier this week. In that incident, bystanders recorded video as Alton Sterling, 37, was pinned to the ground by two officers before being shot to death.