Another Black man shot and killed by a policeman who believed shooting first is the acceptable way of engaging Black folk.
A St. Paul man died Wednesday night after being shot by police in Falcon Heights, the immediate aftermath of which was shown in a video recorded by the man’s girlfriend as she sat next to him and which was widely shared on Facebook.
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 “police shot him for no apparent reason, no reason at all,” she says.
Friends at the scene identified the man as Philando Castile, 32, cafeteria supervisor at J.J. Hill Montessori School in St. Paul.
Castile’s family says his girlfriend, Diamond Reynolds, and her 4-year-old daughter were in the car at the time. Reynolds was taken into custody Wednesday night.
Reynolds, who was in the front passenger seat, says in the video that they were pulled over for a broken tail light. She documents that police asked Castile, who was driving, for his license and registration.
She says as Castile was reaching for his wallet, he told officers that he had a firearm in his possession as well as a conceal-and-carry permit.
Reynolds says in the video that an officer then shot her boyfriend four times.
The officer in the video appears to be extremely emotional, and at one point screams, “I told him not to reach for it! I told him to get his hand out …”
Reynolds, who is very composed, tells the officer, “You told him to get his I.D., sir, his driver’s license.”
She then pans the cellphone camera over Castile, who is covered in blood.
“Oh my God, please don’t tell me he’s dead. Please don’t tell me my boyfriend just went like that,” Reynolds said.
The officer, whose gun is drawn the entire time, tells Reynolds to, “Keep your hands where they are.”
“Yes I will, sir, I’ll keep my hands where they are,” she said.
Reynolds is then told to get out of the car. Her cellphone shows several officers with guns drawn, and one officer is holding her daughter, who was in the back seat of the car when Castile was shot.
Below is a transcript of Reynolds’ Facebook video:
Reynolds: Stay with me. We got pulled over for a busted tail light in the back and he’s covered … they killed my boyfriend. He’s licensed to carry. He was trying to get out his ID and his wallet out his pocket and he let the officer know that he had a firearm and he was reaching for his wallet and the officer just shot him in his arm.
Officer: Ma’am, keep your hands where they are.
Reynolds: I am sir, no worries.
Officer: [Yells expletive.]
Reynolds: He just got his arm shot off. We got pulled over on Larpenteur.
Officer: I told him not to reach for it! I told him to get his head up!
Reynolds: He had, you told him to get his ID, sir, his driver’s license. Please don’t tell me he’s dead.
Reynolds: Please don’t tell me my boyfriend just went like that.
Officer: Keep your hands where they are.
Reynolds: Yes I will, sir. I will keep my hands where they are. Please don’t tell me that he’s gone. Please don’t tell me that he’s gone. Please officer, don’t tell me that you just did this to him. You shot four bullets into him, sir. He was just getting his license and registration, sir.
** Silence **
Other Officer: Get the female passenger out of the car.
Reynolds: Where’s my daughter? You have my daughter?”
** Pause **
Reynolds: I got … the Roseville Police got me handcuffed, my phone is about to die. I’m on Larpenteur and Fry and the Roseville Police Department just shot my boyfriend. They shot him four times. He has a license to carry. We had a busted tail light. And we had some weed in the car that’s about it.
So much for the narrative of just following police orders to stay alive.
There must be a seismic shift in the culture of law enforcement, and a huge change in how they select candidates to be police officers. They need to look for different qualities (empathy, the ability to de-escalate situations, etc) and they need to institute a top down culture of accountability.
In the meantime I will continue to teach my Black children to avoid interactions with the police at all costs, to have their phone fully charged and recording if they ever have to engage with the police, and to use their DWB app if they’re stopped by the police.