A man died Wednesday night after being shot by police in Falcon Heights, the aftermath of which was recorded in a video widely shared on Facebook in which the man’s girlfriend says the “police shot him for no apparent reason, no reason at all.”
Friends at the scene identified the man as Philando Castile, 32, cafeteria supervisor at J.J. Hill Montessori School in St. Paul. Castile’s cousin said on her Facebook page that he was dead.
Castile’s uncle, Clarence Castile, who was at Hennepin County Medical Center with other family members, said Philando died at 9:37 p.m., a few minutes after arriving at the hospital.
The girlfriend started the live-stream video with the man in the driver’s seat slumped next to her, his white T-shirt soaked with blood on the left side. In the video, taken with her phone, she says they were pulled over at Larpenteur Avenue and Fry Street for a broken taillight.
The video was posted on a Facebook page belonging to Lavish Reynolds, but it’s not clear if it is the girlfriend’s page or whether she sent the video to someone else to post. Reynolds’ page was no longer available by midnight, but by then copies of the video had been shared many times.
The girlfriend said on the video that the officer “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 video shows a uniformed police officer holding a pistol on the couple from outside the car. The officer can be heard to say, “I told him not to reach for it. I told him to get his hand out.”
The girlfriend says in the video that her boyfriend was shot by a Roseville police officer.
St. Anthony police Sgt. Jon Mangseth, who is interim police chief, told reporters at the scene that the primary officer who initiated the traffic stop and the backup officer who responded were St. Anthony police officers.
Castile was taken to Hennepin County Medical Center in Minneapolis. “I do not know the status of the victim at this time,” Mangseth said.
Clarence Castile, Philando’s uncle, said his nephew 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 and also lived in Minneapolis for a time.
He said Philando’s mother, Valerie Castile, 60, was inside the hospital and had “broken down” over the death of her only son.
He said Philando had left his home about two hours before the shooting occurred. “My nephew was killed by the police” without doing anything wrong, he said.
About 12:35 a.m. Thursday, Valerie Castile and her daughter emerged from the HCMC emergency room to the waiting arms of friends and family members. “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.”
Philando’s sister, who was also crying, said, “They killed my brother. They held a gun on him while he was hurting, and did nothing to help him.”
Philando’s cousin, Antonio Johnson, 31, was also at HCMC. Johnson 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.
He said Philando was “very nonconfrontational,” “a real upstanding citizen,” and “by the book.”
Minnesota court records show only misdemeanors and petty misdemeanors Philando Castile’s record.
‘Knew something was wrong’
Katherine Bleth, who lives across the street from the shooting scene, said she was driving home with a friend when she saw the crime scene “right in front of me.” “Cop cars were rushing past us; we knew something was wrong,” she said.
Falcon Heights, MN: Cop pulled over & shot black man. Brought to hospital. Upsetting footage. Across from my apt. pic.twitter.com/fgRczvxEMK
— skeletal trash lord (@skeletontrash) July 7, 2016
She saw and videotaped an officer performing CPR on a man lying just outside the driver’s side door of the car, then saw paramedics put the man on a stretcher and load him into an ambulance.
“What I see is all my neighbors standing outside, videotaping and very upset,” she said. She said there were 12 to 15 squad cars, including some Roseville officers.
The 10-minute video shows the girlfriend being ordered from her car by several officers, one of whom is holding a child, presumed to be the girlfriend’s 4-year-old daughter. The woman was put in the back of a squad car in handcuffs.
“Please don’t tell me my boyfriend’s gone,” the girlfriend pleads in the video. “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.”