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.


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: