Philando Castile, a 32-year-old cafeteria worker at the
J.J. Hill Montessori Magnet School in St. Paul, Minnesota, was fatally shot by a police officer during a traffic stop in a St. Paul suburb Wednesday night.
In a statement released on Thursday afternoon, St. Paul Schools Superintendent Valeria Silva described Castile as “one of our own.”
“I am deeply sorry for his family and for their loss,” the statement read. “He’s worked in SPPS for many years and he graduated from our district, so he was one of our own.”
A coworker at the Montessori school where Castile had been employed since 2002 described him in the statement as “smart” and “overqualified” for his job serving meals to more than 500 kids twice a day.
“Kids loved him. He was smart, over-qualified. He was quiet, respectful, and kind. I knew him as warm and funny; he called me his ‘wing man.’ He wore a shirt and tie to his supervisor interview and said his goal was to one day ‘sit on the other side of this table,'” the coworker said.
“He smiled at everybody who came in the building,” another coworker, Joan Edman, told the Minnesota Star Tribune. “I remember him saying, ‘I just want everybody here to be happy.’ He wanted the cafeteria to be a happy place. It was a huge goal, and not an easy one, and he did it.”
The aftermath of the shooting that ultimately killed Castile was captured by his girlfriend, Diamond ‘Lavish’ Reynolds, in a Facebook live video. Reynolds said that before he was shot, Castile allegedly told the officer that he had a concealed weapon in his glove compartment and a licence to carry it.
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.'”
The officer, employed by the St. Anthony’s Police Department in the Minnesota suburb of Falcon Heights, near St. Paul, could be heard in Reynold’s video shouting expletives and screaming, “I told him not to reach for it!”
Reynolds responded: “You told him to get his ID, sir — his driver’s licence.”
She says 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.”
Castile’s death has sparked outrage across the country, and protests erupted outside of the Minnesota governor’s mansion early Thursday. Governor Mark Dayton, along with Congresswoman Betty McCollum — whose district covers Falcon Heights, where Castile was shot — have since called for a Justice Department investigation into Castile’s death.
Police have not yet provided a detailed account of the incident. St. Anthony Police Sgt. Jon Mangseth did not tell reporters the reasons for the traffic stop, but he said that shots were fired at some point.
Here’s the full statement:
“Saint Paul Public Schools and its staff grieve the tragic death of a former student and current employee, Philando Castile.
“He graduated from Central High School in 2001 and had worked for Saint Paul Public Schools (SPPS) since he was 19 years old, beginning in 2002, in the Nutrition Services Department.
“Mr. Castile was promoted to a supervisory position two years ago and was currently working in one of our schools during the summer term.
“Colleagues describe him as a team player who maintained great relationships with staff and students alike. He had a cheerful disposition and his colleagues enjoyed working with him. He was quick to greet former coworkers with a smile and hug.
“One coworker said, ‘Kids loved him. He was smart, over-qualified. He was quiet, respectful, and kind. I knew him as warm and funny; he called me his ‘wing man.’ He wore a shirt and tie to his supervisor interview and said his goal was to one day ‘sit on the other side of this table.’
“Those who worked with him daily said he will be greatly missed.
“‘I am deeply sorry for his family and for their loss. He’s worked in SPPS for many years and he graduated from our district, so he was one of our own,’ said SPPS Superintendent Valeria Silva.
“Grief counselors will be available for staff and students as needed or requested.
“The Saint Paul Public Schools family extends its deepest sympathy to Mr. Castile’s family and loved ones.”
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