A black man was fatally shot by a cop during a minor traffic stop in Minnesota — and the bloody aftermath was widely shared in a video in which the man’s anguished girlfriend, sitting by his side, said: “Police shot him for no apparent reason.”
The man, identified by friends as Philando Castile, 32, a school cafeteria worker from St. Paul, Minn., could be seen lying in the driver’s seat with his T-shirt drenched in blood.
The St. Anthony police interim chief, Sgt. Jon Mangseth, said an officer pulled over their car around 9 p.m. Wednesday in Falcon Heights, a St. Paul suburb.
Reynolds, who noted that Castile was licensed to carry a handgun, said they were stopped on Larpenteur Avenue and Fry Street for a broken taillight.
The girlfriend said on the video that the cop – whom she described as Asian — “asked him for license and registration. He told him that it was in his wallet, but he had a pistol on him because he’s licensed to carry. The officer said, ‘Don’t move.’ As he was putting his hands back up, the officer shot him in the arm four or five times.”
The uniformed cop is seen holding a gun on the stricken man from outside the car, saying, “F—! I told him not to reach for it. I told him to get his hand out.”
Reynolds, who is calm and composed at first, tells the officer: “You shot four bullets into him, sir. He was just getting his license and registration, sir.”
The woman can be heard being ordered out of the car, told to walk backward and handcuffed as the camera appears to be left on the ground, still recording.
A young girl, who can be seen moments later, is heard saying at one point, “I’m scared, Mommy.” The girl later tries to calm her increasingly despondent mother by saying, “It’s OK. I’m right here with you.”
The woman describes being put in the back seat of the police car and says, “The police just shot my boyfriend for no apparent reason.”
The nearly 10-minute video garnered more than 1 million views before it was briefly pulled from Facebook before being available again with a graphic warning.
“Please don’t tell me my boyfriend’s gone,” the girlfriend pleads. “He don’t deserve this, please. He works for St. Paul public schools. He’s never been in jail, anything. He’s not a gang member, anything.”
Mangseth said two officers were present when the incident occurred — a primary officer, who he believes has more than five years of experience, and a backup, CNN reported.
The St. Anthony police force doesn’t have body cameras, according to the department’s office manager, Kim Brazil.
The Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension will lead the investigation, the department said in a statement.
Clarence Castile said his nephew was “a good kid” who had worked in the J.J. Hill school cafeteria for 12 to 15 years, “cooking for the little kids,” the Star Tribune reported.
He said Philando’s mother, Valerie Castile, 60, had “broken down” over the death of her only son.
“An officer is supposed to protect and serve. That was a man who did that. That man is a destroyer and he came into our lives and done something and took something from us,” Clarence told CNN.
Valerie Castile and her daughter emerged from the hospital emergency room early Thursday.
“They killed my son,” Valerie Castile said, sobbing. “They took a good man, a hard-working man; he worked since he was 18 years old.”
She said her son was “not a gang-banger. He’s not a thug. He’s very respectable. And I know he didn’t antagonize that officer in any way to make him feel like his life was threatened.”
Valerie also said she had instructed her son to always “comply” if stopped by police.
Philando’s grief-stricken sister, Alize, said, “They killed my brother. They held a gun on him while he was hurting, and did nothing to help him.”
“It’s just like we’re animals. It’s basically modern-day lynching that we’re seeing going on, except we’re not getting hung by a tree anymore – we’re getting killed on camera,” Alize said, CBS News reported.
Philando’s cousin, Antonio Johnson, 31, said Philando graduated with honors from St. Paul Central High School, where he was a straight-A student.
He was “a black individual driving in Falcon Heights who was immediately criminally profiled and he lost his life over it tonight,” Johnson said, the paper reported.
Minnesota court records show only misdemeanors and petty misdemeanors on Philando Castile’s record.
The dead man’s family and friends held a prayer circle outside the hospital early Thursday.
Several relatives, including Valerie Castile, then walked to the Hennepin County medical examiner’s office to see Philando’s body, but were not allowed inside, said Nekima Levy-Pounds, president of the Minneapolis NAACP chapter, who accompanied them.
“The family has a number of concerns about what happened in this case,” Levy-Pounds said, the Star Tribune reported.
“They do not believe that the shooting was warranted in this case. Philando Castile was an upstanding citizen, according to all the reports that we’ve heard,” she said.
Levy-Pounds demanded that an independent agency be appointed to conduct the probe.
“We’re demanding justice; we’re demanding accountability,” she said. “We’re demanding a change to our laws and policies that allow these types of things to happen. Too often officers are taught to shoot first and ask questions last, and that’s completely unacceptable.”