32-year-old Philando Castile became another victim of police violence this week after he was shot and killed by a police officer during a traffic stop in Minnesota.
Castile was pulled over on Wednesday for a broken tail light. He was traveling in a car with his girlfriend and her 4-year-old daughter. His girlfriend, Lavish Reynolds, reported that officers asked Castile for his license and registration. When he went to retrieve them he notified the officers that he did have a firearm and that he had a concealed carry permit. He was then shot four times.
Reynolds captured the aftermath on a viral video that has since been removed from Facebook. In the video Reynolds says that Castile was shot while following officers’ orders. Castile is bleeding out in the passenger seat as an officer keeps his gun pointed at the car and other officers arrive to order Reynolds out of the car. Reynolds exits the car with weapons pointed at her and is handcuffed and ordered to her knees. She is then placed in the back of a police vehicle.
Reynold’s four-year-old daughter can be heard saying “It’s okay mommy. It’s okay, I’m right here with you.”
“It’s okay mommy. It’s okay, I’m right here with you” #PhilandoCastile‘s girlfriend’s 4yo daughter said to her mother. & I am broken.
— deray mckesson (@deray) July 7, 2016
Castile later died at the Hennepin County Medical Center.
Reynold’s stated on Facebook that the reason she recorded the video and shared it on Facebook was:
“I wanted everyone in the world to know that, no matter how much the police tamper with evidence, how much they stick together, they manipulate our minds to believe what they want, I wanted to put it on Facebook and go viral so that the people could see,” she said. “I didn’t do it for pity. I didn’t do it for fame. I did it so that the world knows that these police are not here to protect and serve us. They are here to assassinate us.”
As in the case of Alton Sterling, the officers, identified as Geronimo Yanez, who fired the shots, and Joseph Kauser, who assisted in the traffic stop, are on paid administrative leave.
According to ThinkProgress, the St. Anthony Police Department has a history of shady traffic stops. Joe Olson, a retired Minnesota law professor who helped draft Minnesota’s firearms permit law, was pulled over two years ago by a cop he describes as “terrified” and “incompetent” due to the fact that the officer interviewed him outside a rear-view mirror instead of coming up to the driver’s window.
When Olson shared his concerns with police Chief Ohl of the St. Anthony PD he wasn’t taken seriously. Chief Ohl has a history of downplaying police violence, claiming that the “national news media and local media are making it tough to recruit high-quality cops.”
Meanwhile, Minnesota Governor Mark Dayton has publicly stated that he believes if Castile wasn’t black he would still be alive:
“Would this had happened if those passengers were white? I don’t think it would’ve. So I’m forced to confront, and I think all of us in Minnesota are forced to confront, [that] this kind of racism exists.”
Minnesota Gov. Dayton on #PhilandoCastile: “I don’t think this would’ve happened” if the car’s passengers were white https://t.co/2Eq8i8vxtC
— CNN Politics (@CNNPolitics) July 7, 2016
According to NBC, Castile’s criminal record included being pulled over 31 times by law enforcement but not once for a violent crime. The charges included driving without a muffler and speeding.
NBC: Philando Castile was pulled over 31 times by law enforcement and all of the charges were misdemeanors and none for violent crimes.
— Tom Winter (@Tom_Winter) July 7, 2016
The traffic charges for Philando Castile went from driving without a muffler and without insurance to driving without a license and speeding
— Tom Winter (@Tom_Winter) July 7, 2016
Gov. Dayton has requested that The Department of Justice open an independent investigation into Castile’s death.
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