Police Abuse

Police in Minnesota Shoot and Kill Man, Allegedly in a Broken Tail Light Traffic Stop [Updated, Corrected]

Bloody video shows the dying Philando Castile, as his girlfriend records and the police take her into custody.

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A video of the aftermath of a police shooting of Philando Castile in Falcon Heights, Minnesota, shows a remarkably composed woman claiming that the shooting occurred when Castile, who she said informed the officer that he had a firearm and carry permit, reached for his wallet while in the passenger seat of the car she was driving.   [He was driving]

Castile is now dead from the shooting. The video shows no signs of police in a rush to get him medical care.

In the video, an officer is still pointing his gun in the car at the wounded Castile and the woman, identified as Diamond Reynolds  by CBS Minnesota. The officer sounded very agitated as he first shouts "Fuck!" and then says "I told him not to reach for it! I told him to get his hand off it!" (A Washington Post article says the woman's Facebook page is in the name of Lavish Reynolds.)

Reynolds was ordered out of the car with many police pointing weapons at her and screamed at. She was forced to kneel and had the phone she'd been using to video tossed away, according to her voice on the audio. The video from that point is aimed at the sky for a while, then goes dark, as if it was picked up and shoved in someone's pocket for a few minutes. (It later ends up back in her possession in the video.)

An officer told Reynolds: "Ma'am, you are just being detained right now until we get this all sorted out." CBS Minnesota reports tonight that she is still in custody. The video ends with her in the back of the police car. According to the Post, Reynolds originally broadcast the video live on Facebook.

Reynolds's four-year-old daughter was in the car. By the time the video begins the young girl was already out of the car and being held by police. It is unclear whether she was in the car when the shooting occurred.

Castile's mother told CBS Minnesota that her 32-year-old son was "a cafeteria supervisor at J.J. Hill Montessori School in St. Paul."

The Post article does not have the police either confirming or denying Reynolds' account on the video as to Castile's being a legal permit holder, or why the interaction began, which is: because of a busted tail light.

The officer was with the St. Anthony Police Department, according to the Post. Sgt. Jon Mangseth of the department told the Post merely that:

"As this unfolds we will release the information as we learn it, and we will address concerns as we are made aware of them," he said, adding he had yet to see the Facebook video, which he had only learned about from members of the media. "As we learn more information we will release that in a press release."

Later in the video Reynolds says this about what happened: "The police just shot my boyfriend for no apparent reason…they shot him three times cause we had a busted tail light. He asked him for license and registration he told them was in his wallet but he has a a pistol on him 'cause he's licensed to carry and the officer told him don't move and as he's putting his hand back up the officer shot him in his arm about four, five times." She also admits to "having some weed in the car" later in the video.

As I wrote last January when reporting on a case where a license plate light led to an interaction that led to the police shooting and killing Richard Ramirez in Montana:

These are the kind of excuses [license plate and tail lights] police have to stop us in our tracks and begin an interaction during which, if we make them uncomfortable or nervous, they can and will kill us, likely with no consequences.

My previous essay on the many dangers of petty law enforcement and how it causes the police's attention to focus on our lives, which discusses how unfortunate legal precedent combined with the vagueness of traffic law means we are all open to being stopped and questioned at any time for pretty much any reason the officer wants to use.

And as I noted when reporting on another police shooting in Florida (no death, just paralysis) that resulted from an interaction over riding a bike the "wrong way":

I stress this a lot, because it always seems important. We have far too many stupid reasons for police/citizen interactions to happen to begin with.

More details or clarification on what happened will doubtless dribble out over the next 24 hours and will update appropriately.

[UPDATE Since for whatever reason a lot of media and commentators seem more concerned with Castile's possible past criminal record, irrelevant to the officer's decisions last night, rather than the apparent absurd and petty circumstance under which his fatal encounter with the police began, the Minneapolis Star Tribune reports that "Minnesota court records show only misdemeanors and petty misdemeanors on Philando Castile's record."

CBS Minnesota with some details on who can have a carry permit in the state. While there has been no official confirmation (permit carriers are not a matter of public records in the state) that Castile had a permit, as Reynolds insisted, the TV station finds nothing in his known criminal history that would have disqualified him from having such a permit.]

[UPDATE II: For new details on the incident, see this new post, including reason to believe the police suspected Castile had been involved in a robbery, and that he did indeed have a carry permit.]

The video, which has been reported to have appeared and disappeared from Facebook already this evening. If it disappears from the below YouTube link, it was also available as of posting here:

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  1. This is as clear-cut a case of first-digree, capital murder as I’ve seen recently. The prosecutor for that area needs to make an example of the cop responsible. Have him sent to prison on the maximal sentence possible, and hire the most violent, despicable inmates to repeatedly rape, torture, and then murder the motherfucker as he begs for his life.

    Never call the police. Ever.

    1. Or drive.

    2. I don’t even know what to say. This is just depressingly horrible. This is why I am afraid to carry. If you get pulled over for a traffic violation, do not tell the officer you have a firearm in the car and refuse searches.

    3. I agree that the officer should be criminally prosecuted, but “first-degree, capital murder” seems a stretch given that there’s no evidence of premeditation, which typically means second degree murder is the highest possible charge.

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  2. I hope that citizens burn down the fucking city.

    1. The problem is they burn down drug stores instead of city hall.

  3. Murderer’s name: Won Chau

  4. This is horrible.

    (But I still would prefer that nobody burns down any minority-owned businesses)

    1. (or any businesses for that matter)

  5. What a cowardly profession. Falcon Heights’ violent crime rate is less than a quarter the national average. This is the first murder there in over 15 years. If police officers really fear for their lives, maybe they should stop dicking around on their laptops while doing 80 down 494.

    1. I lived in the next town over. Falcon Heights is nothing but a speed trap. This is insane

  6. She also admits to “having some weed in the car” later in the video.

    Phew. Thank goodness. I was worried this wouldn’t be a justifiable shooting.

    1. Exactly. It was a strain that had pcp qualities that give people superhuman strength to throw cop cars fifty yards.

      1. way off. The term “devil weed” is based on the fact that even microscopic traces of the plant are capable of summoning Satan himself and only the murder of an innocent soul can send him back to hell.

        or do you WANT Armageddon to happen 2-3 times a day?

    2. Which is as legal as speeding or burnt out tail light. Ie, not in the criminal code. Violations of civil law are not crimes under the fifth amendment, and thus not entitled to trial by jury and having a public defender provided if you can’t afford one.

      Minnesota has thriving medical Marijuana business and possession for personal use is a misdemeanor with only a fine, like having a broken taillight.

  7. The only way this is going to stop is if Americans start shooting the pigs first.
    Take a page from Northern Ireland’s Catholics.

    1. You know, many Northern Ireland Catholics were busy promoting peace there – they weren’t all a bunch of terrorists.

      But if you want to see what police abuse *really* looks like, see what the police in N. Ireland were able to do once they had “antiterrorist” laws and policies to back them up.

      1. “You know, many Northern Ireland Catholics were busy promoting peace there – they weren’t all a bunch of terrorists.”

        Nobody claimed, or remotely implied, that they were.

    2. One of the main targets of IRA in Northern Ireland were Catholics that worked in any way with the N. Irish government.

  8. God fucking dammit. Terrible. Even though you have a right to carry, the procedure here – if you value your life – needs to be: keep your palms on the wheel, fingers splayed, declare the firearm and carry permit FIRST, articulate concerns about procedure, instruct the flatfoot to give you a step by step procedure on what to do. Awful situation.

    1. But there was a gun, and therefore the shooting will be justified.

      1. It would have been justified even if there were no gun. Believe me. There’s plenty of precedence on this.

    2. None of which will make a difference.as Officer McTrigger screams conflicting orders at you until he finally scares himself into blasting your limbs off.

      1. Officer McTriggerManslaughter. I’m gonna give the asshole the benefit of the doubt of being a poorly-trained jumpy retard.

    3. The cop is supposed to be trained for these situations. It’s their fucking profession. And yet clearly they shit their pants whenever they see a *scary* person i.e. A black man and so the person dies because the cop can’t perform his duties correctly. We the citizens pay the lawsuit and the cop is released to perform poorly once again.

      1. Over a broken fucking tail light. The guy fucking panicked over a fucking BROKEN TAIL LIGHT stop.

        1. When cops say “broken tail light,” what they mean is “suspicious nigger I wanna fuck with.” It doesn’t even have to be broken. Cops can just say, “You say the light is working perfectly? Well, it must be a loose bulb, because when I saw it, it was out.”

          1. That demeans the innumerable victims, white, black and everything else, that get murdered by police with impunity every year. There’s already enough grievance mongers and race hustlers detracting from the real problem here.

      2. I have zero desire to be a LEO but if I was and I had a driver inform me that he had a concealed carry permit and weapon I would be reassured that nothing was going to happen. The vast majority of people with concealed carry permits are law abiding. Between the background checks and permit requirements in most states, a concealed carry permit is a hassle to get. So the people who go through the effort to get them take having a permit very seriously.
        Hell here in ND you can’t get a permit if you have had a DUI in the last 10 years.

    4. Even though you have a right to carry, the procedure here – if you value your life – needs to be: keep your palms on the wheel, fingers splayed, declare the firearm and carry permit FIRST, articulate concerns about procedure, instruct the flatfoot to give you a step by step procedure on what to do.

      My understanding/reading of the situation was that Castile did as much, that Castile was making every effort to be above compliant with any and all laws. I’m trying to find if my source is real or more impartial than his wife/kid sitting in the car. However, even if Castile made some ‘furtive movement’ without disclosing he had a firearm, panic firing into a car with civilians in it is pretty fucking reckless for a trained officer of the law.

    5. He the passenger.

    6. “Cops put a hurtin’ on your ass, man. You know, they really degrade you. White folks don’t believe that shit, they don’t believe cops degrade. ‘Ah, come on, those beatings, those people are resisting arrest. I’m tired of this harassment of police officers.’ That’s ’cause the police live in your neighborhood, see, and you be knowin’ ’em as Officer Timpson. ‘Hello, Officer Timpson, going bowling tonight? Yes, nice Pinto you have.’ Niggers don’t know them like that. See, white folks get a ticket, they pull over, ‘Hey, Officer, yes, glad to be of help, cheerio!’ A nigger got to be talkin’ ’bout, ‘I am reaching into my pocket for my license! ‘Cause I don’t wanna be no motherfucking accident!'”

    7. Yes, cower in terror before your masters, our “public servants”. Can you imagine a private business treating its customers this way?

  9. I don’t offer this as “consolation”, but I do observe that the mainstream media narrative has very observably changed over police violence. Watching the reporting of this on the Today show this morning (my barometer for the MSM) the tone of the reporting was very clearly “another cop shoots someone dead for what does not appear to be legitimate cause”. I honestly think the narrative may have moved past the “isolated incident”.

    1. You mean it’s not being turned into a race thing entirely?

      1. I appreciate that there’s a strong element of that, yes. But in all seriousness, that’s one of the things I was listening for this morning and interestingly there was no overt mention of race at all in the reporting. Of course, the video speaks for itself with respect to race so maybe they didn’t feel the need.

      2. The silver lining of the ever-increasing over-zealousness of cops over the last decade or so is that they’ve stopped restricting their abuses of power to marginalized groups (and criminals). More and more, regular, generally law-abiding people have been victimized by abusive or aggressive police practices. Hopefully the tipping point is near.

  10. From this case and the one in Baton Rouge, I’m getting the impression that many cops these days are downright awful at handling and controlling a handgun. Ten to one both this cop and the LA one had their finger directly on the trigger and tensed up and squeezed off a round. Also this cop shooting multiple times, what the fuck, I guess it’s spray and pray after they let out the first round?!

    This is a distinct lack of skill in handling weapons (part of the job) for these officers.

    1. This is a distinct lack of skill in handling weapons (part of the job) for these officers.

      The cop in LA was physically in contact with the suspect when the rounds were discharged. In the video, you can hear/see the threat of “[sic]Don’t do it or I’ll…” at gunpoint almost immediately before shots were fired.

      No way to know what exactly happened in the Castile case except, as I point out above, the officer was outside the vehicle (so more free do de-escalate/disengage) and discharging into a vehicle that, even if he was taking fire, was questionable at best about returning into.

  11. Reynolds was ordered out of the car with many police pointing weapons at her and screamed at.

    She did what, exactly, that warranted the goons endangering her life as well? She calmly addressed the cop as “sir” while her boyfriend sat next to her dead or dying but somehow she needs to have a bunch of guns pointed at her as if she’s the threat.

    Complete disregard for the danger that they put people in by waving their god damn sidearms around.

  12. Here he is. Right on schedule– Philando Castile.

    Cop gets vacation as a ‘punishment, just like the last ones.

    And the reaction will be the same.

    The problem will be moved from the police to a more general ‘race’ issue and everyone will waste their effort over that.

    People will strike their virtuous poses on the intertubes and in the teevees.

    And the next guy is already waiting for the bullet.

  13. broken tail light.

    as soon as you hear those words–or words like them–you know immediately that the cops in ‘I’m bored and want to fuck with somebody’ mode.

    there is something extremely wrong with how we’re doing ‘cop’ in this country

    1. No, this isn’t because the cop is bored. It’s because we’ve allowed the fourth amendment to only exist at the discretion of police.

  14. Well the only bright side to this story is that at least the local protesters have a sympathetic victim. This guy didn’t deserve any of this.

    The last time they tried to get the BLM groove on, they were protesting the shooting of Jamar Clark. He was trying to stop paramedics from treating his girlfriend after he had beaten her. Tough act to sell to most people.

  15. In a simple broken taillight stop, why were they even fucking with the passenger of the vehicle?

    1. I’ve read elsewhere that because the video was shot with the phone’s front-facing camera, it appears flipped. I believe he was the driver.

      1. I don’t understand. I just made two videos of the same thing on my IPhone 5C, one with the camera on the screen side, one with the camera on the “back” side. Both videos have the same, “normal” right/left sense. What am I doing wrong? I don’t believe this “selfie camera” explanation. We’re used to seeing ourselves in mirrors, which *do* reverse the image. But a selfie should make us look natural, as we appear to others, but different from our own idea of how we look in a mirror.

    2. Yes, I too since I was mostly listening to it over and over rather than staring at it missed the fact that the video was flipped. You actually can see that Castile is behind the wheel in at least a second of the shot. My mistake, and it has been corrected. He was driving.

      1. Thanks, Brian.

  16. This is something that the NRA should scream bloody murder about, no pun intended. But I have a feeling that this may actually be used by gun control advocates as another reason why we need more gun control.

    1. Honestly, if the NRA had a shred of decency, they would be flipping their shit every time a cop shoots someone because the cops think they have a gun or are going for it. Trying to get more people to carry (which the NRA says it wants) is a lot harder of a sell when just having something that looks like a gun gets you shot.

      Or to put it another way… given how skittish cops are about armed civilians, if your stated objective is to have more armed civilians you need to also should be trying to improve the way cops behave around guns and objecting when they behave badly.

  17. This is sickening, absolutely nauseating to watch. I can’t see how anyone irregardless of political affiliation can watch this and examine the facts and not feel anger, pure anger. Now I’m waiting for the Republicans to come out and say “But he had weed in the car!”

  18. Could this week get any more shitty?

    1. No. No it can’t.

    2. An ill-advised question, unfortunately…

  19. This is why I quite prefer the speed cameras around Maryland. While I do have issues with the surveillance nature of them it is far better then having to interact with a police officer during a traffic stop.

  20. Castile with a broken tail light gets a death sentence.

    Clinton with an unsecured server and state secrets passed around the globe gets a pat on the ass.

    Fuck me.

  21. Why the massive police presence for a broken tail light? It could just be normal. Every time I see the police it’s not just one police car but 2 or 3.

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