WARNING: The video below is extremely graphic. Please watch with caution.
FALCON HEIGHTS, Minn. (AP) — A Minnesota officer fatally shot a man in a car with a woman and a child, an official said, and authorities are looking into whether the aftermath was livestreamed in a widely shared Facebook video, which shows a woman in a vehicle with a man whose shirt appears to be soaked in blood telling the camera “police just shot my boyfriend for no apparent reason.”
St. Anthony Police interim police chief Jon Mangseth said the incident began when an officer pulled over a vehicle around 9 p.m. Wednesday in Falcon Heights, a St. Paul suburb Mangseth’s department serves. Mangseth said he did not have details about the reason for the traffic stop, but that at some point shots were fired. The man was struck but no one else was injured, he said.
As word of the shooting and video spread, relatives of the man joined scores of people who gathered at the scene of the shooting and outside the hospital where the man died and identified him as Philando Castile of St. Paul, a 32-year-old cafeteria supervisor at a Montessori school.
He was “a black individual driving in Falcon Heights who was immediately criminally profiled and he lost his life over it tonight,” Castile’s cousin, Antonio Johnson, told the Star Tribune. Protesters then moved on to the governor’s mansion in nearby St. Paul, where around 200 people chanted and demanded action from Democratic Gov. Mark Dayton.
The shooting comes as police use of force, particularly against minorities, is back in the national spotlight after the video-recorded fatal shooting earlier this week of 37-year-old Alton Sterling by Baton Rouge police. The U.S. Justice Department launched a civil rights investigation Wednesday into the shooting, which took place after Sterling, who was black, scuffled with two white police officers on the pavement outside a convenience store.
The video posted Wednesday night on Facebook Live appeared to show the aftermath of a shooting like that described by Mangseth. It shows the woman in a car next to a bloodied man quietly 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 person who appears to be an armed police officer stands at the car’s window, and sounds distraught as he tells the woman to keep her hands where they are and intermittently swears.
The Associated Press couldn’t immediately verify the authenticity of the video. Mangseth said he had been “made aware there was a livestream on Facebook” but said he had not yet seen the video and didn’t know anything about its contents.
The woman in the video says that the man she identified as her boyfriend was licensed to carry a gun and was trying to get his ID and wallet when the officer shot him. Police said in a statement that a handgun was recovered from the scene.
The department did not release details about the officer involved, including his race or service record, except to say that he has been placed on paid administrative leave.
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.
The Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension has been called to investigate, Mangseth said. A spokesman for that agency couldn’t 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.’”