A 32-year-old black man whose girlfriend said was pulled over by a Minnesota police officer for a broken tail light was shot and killed by the officer late Wednesday night.
His girlfriend said he allegedly revealed to the officer he had a concealed weapon in his glove compartment and a licence to carry before he was shot.
The earliest details emerging from the shooting have led to questions about its implications for one of the central premises of the US justice system, as well as an assertion frequently posited in the wake of police shootings to justify the officers’ actions: If you comply with the police, you won’t be harmed.
“I’ve always told my son, the key thing in order to try to survive being stopped by the police is to comply. Whatever they ask you to do — do it,” Valerie Castile, Philando Castile’s mother, said in an interview with CNN on Thursday morning.
“Don’t say nothing. Just do whatever they want you to do. So what’s the difference in complying and you get killed anyway?” she added.
Castile’s girlfriend, Diamond “Lavish” Reynolds, who was in the vehicle with her 4-year-old daughter at the time and captured the aftermath of the shooting in a Facebook live stream, asserted in the video that her boyfriend informed the officer — who has not been identified — that he had a concealed weapon and a licence to carry.
“He let the officer know that he had a firearm and he was reaching for his wallet and the officer just shot him in his arm,” she said.
The officer, employed by the St. Anthony’s Police Department in the Minnesota suburb of Falcon Heights near St. Paul, could be heard shouting expletives and screaming, “I told him not to reach for it!”
The woman responded, “You told him to get his ID, sir — his driver’s licence.”
Police have not yet provided a detailed accounting of the incident. St. Anthony Police Sgt. Jon Mangseth did not provide details to reporters about the reasons for the traffic stop, but he said that shots were fired at some point.
Many on social media have expressed their dismay over reports that Castile’s fate, despite his apparent compliance with the officer:
One thing I’m struck by in aftermath of Sterling shooting is this: who can credibly tell black people they should ever trust in authorities?
— Joel D. Anderson (@byjoelanderson) July 6, 2016
Philando Castile had a permit for his gun. He told the police officer it was in the glove box. And they shot him anyway.
— Jamelle Bouie (@jbouie) July 7, 2016
In another Facebook video posted Thursday, Reynolds told reporters she recorded the incident because she wanted to show the world that “police are not here to protect and serve us. They are here to assassinate us.”
“I wanted everyone in the world to know how much [the police] tamper with evidence and how much they manipulate our minds,” she said. “I wanted it to go viral so that people could determine themselves as to what was right and what was wrong.”
Reynolds asserted that Castile was “killed for no reason.”
He did “nothing but what the police officer asked of us, which was to put your hands in the air and get your licence and registration,” she said. “He was never a bad man. He was the quietest, most laid-back person. Nothing in his body language said ‘intimidation.’ Nothing in his body language said ‘shoot me.’ Nothing in his body language said, ‘kill me.'”
She added that nobody checked Castile’s pulse after he was shot, and that the officer was “still standing there with his gun still drawn” after he shot Castile four times.
Mangseth, an interim chief with the department, told reporters the shooting was the first he could remember in the department’s history.
“We haven’t had an officer involved shooting in 30 years or more, I’d have to go back in the history books,” he said. “It’s shocking, it’s not something that occurs in this area often.” Mangseth noted that some details of the incident were still unclear.
He said later Thursday morning that the officer who shot Castile has been placed on administrative leave.
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