Minnesota police kill man in car; video is widely shared
FALCON HEIGHTS, Minn. — A police officer fatally shot a man in a car, and a woman in the vehicle apparently livestreamed the aftermath in a widely shared Facebook video that shows her telling the camera that her boyfriend had just been shot “for no apparent reason.”
The shooting happened late Wednesday during a traffic stop in the St. Paul suburb of Falcon Heights. The interim police chief in nearby St. Anthony, Jon Mangseth, said he was aware of the video but had not seen it. He did not have details about the reason for the stop.
No one else was injured, he said.
In the video, the woman says the man had told the officer he was carrying a gun for which he was licensed and was shot as he reached for his wallet.
The video appeared to be genuine, but The Associated Press could not immediately verify it with family members, and authorities did not confirm its authenticity.
As word of the shooting spread, relatives of the man joined scores of people who gathered at the scene and outside the hospital where the man died. They identified him as Philando Castile of St. Paul, a 32-year-old cafeteria supervisor at a Montessori school.
Speaking to CNN early Thursday, Castile’s mother said she suspected she would never learn the whole truth about her son’s death.
“I think he was just black in the wrong place,” Valerie Castile said, adding that she had underlined to her children that they must do what authorities tell them to do to survive.
“I know my son … we know black people have been killed … I always told them, whatever you do when you get stopped by police, comply, comply, comply.”
Police did not release any details about the officer who fired except to say he had been placed on paid administrative leave.
It was the second fatal shooting this week, coming only days after a black 37-year-old man was killed by officers in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. Alton Sterling’s death was caught on video.
On Wednesday, the Justice Department launched a civil rights investigation into Sterling’s shooting, which took place after he scuffled with two white police officers outside a convenience store.
In Minnesota, Castile’s cousin, Antonio Johnson, told the Star Tribune that because Castile was a black man driving in a largely middle-class suburb, he “was immediately criminally profiled and he lost his life over it.”
The site of the shooting in Falcon Heights is close to the Minnesota State Fairgrounds and not far from a clutch of fields associated with the University of Minnesota’s agricultural campus.
Late Wednesday, protesters moved to the governor’s mansion in nearby St. Paul, where around 200 people chanted and demanded action from Democratic Gov. Mark Dayton. By daybreak, around 50 protesters remained outside the mansion despite a light rain.
Dayton’s spokesman did not immediately respond to an inquiry from The Associated Press.
The video posted Wednesday night on Facebook Live shows the woman in a car next to a bloodied man slumped in a seat.
The woman describes being pulled over for a “busted tail light” and her boyfriend being shot as he told the officer that he was carrying a pistol for which he was licensed. A clearly distraught person who appears to be an armed police officer stands at the car’s window, telling the woman to keep her hands where they are and intermittently swearing.
Mangseth said he was “made aware there was a livestream on Facebook” but that he did not know anything about its contents.
The woman in the video says the man she identified as her boyfriend was reaching for his ID and wallet when the officer shot him. Police said in a statement that a handgun was recovered from the scene.
The officer tells her to keep her hands up and says: “I told him not to reach for it. I told him to get his hand out.”
“You shot four bullets into him, sir. He was just getting his license and registration, sir,” the woman responds.
The video goes on to show the woman exiting the car and being handcuffed. A young girl can be seen and is heard saying at one point, “I’m scared, Mommy.”
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.”
Clarence Castile spoke to the Star Tribune from the Hennepin County Medical Center, where he said his nephew died minutes after arriving.
He said Philando Castile had worked in the J.J. Hill school cafeteria for 12 to 15 years, “cooking for the little kids.” He said his nephew was “a good kid” who grew up in St. Paul.
Minnesota court records online show Castile had some misdemeanor violations, mainly related to driving.
The Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension has taken over the investigation, Mangseth said.
A spokesman for that agency could not immediately be reached.
The president of the Minneapolis NAACP, Nekima Levy-Pounds, told the crowd she has no faith in the system in the wake of this and other police shootings of black men, including last year’s killing of Jamar Clark in Minneapolis. Levy-Pounds was a leading voice during the protests outside a police station that followed Clark’s death, as well as during a renewed wave of protests after prosecutors decided not to charge the officers involved.
“I’m tired of the laws and policies on the books being used to justify murder,” Levy-Pounds, a civil rights attorney, told the crowd as rain began to fall. “This is completely unacceptable. Somebody say, ‘Enough is Enough.’”
— Associated Press Writer Sarah Rankin in Chicago contributed to this report.