Warning: Graphic Content
A black man was fatally shot by a cop during a minor traffic stop in Minnesota — and the bloody aftermath was widely shared in a video in which the man’s anguished girlfriend, sitting by his side, said: “Police shot him for no apparent reason.”
The man, identified by friends as Philando Castile, 32, a school cafeteria worker from St. Paul, Minn., could be seen lying in the driver’s seat with his T-shirt drenched in blood.
St. Anthony interim police chief Jon Mangseth said the incident began when an officer pulled over a car around 9 p.m. Wednesday in Falcon Heights, a St. Paul suburb.
The girlfriend, Lavish Reynolds, who shot the horrifying 10-minute livestream with her phone, said they were pulled over at Larpenteur Avenue and Fry Street for a broken taillight.
The video was posted on a Facebook page belonging to Reynolds, but it was unclear if she sent the video to someone else to post.
A Facebook spokesman said the video was down briefly because of a technical glitch but was restored to the Lavish Reynolds page as soon as Facebook investigated.
The girlfriend said on the video that the cop “asked him for license and registration. He told him that it was in his wallet, but he had a pistol on him because he’s licensed to carry. The officer said, ‘Don’t move.’ As he was putting his hands back up, the officer shot him in the arm four or five times.”
The uniformed cop is seen holding a gun on the stricken man from outside the car, saying, “I told him not to reach for it. I told him to get his hand out.”
The woman tells the officer: “You shot four bullets into him, sir. He was just getting his license and registration, sir.”
The woman can be heard being ordered out of the car and handcuffed as the camera appears to be left on the ground.
A young girl, who can be seen moments later, 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.”
“Please don’t tell me my boyfriend’s gone,” she pleads. “He don’t deserve this, please. He works for St. Paul public schools. He’s never been in jail, anything. He’s not a gang member, anything.”
Mangseth said the woman and the girl were taken to another police agency to be interviewed.
In a news release, St. Anthony police said, “A handgun was recovered from the scene.” It said the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension will lead the investigation.
Clarence Castile said his nephew was “a good kid” who had worked in the J.J. Hill school cafeteria for 12 to 15 years, “cooking for the little kids,” the Star Tribune reported.
He said Philando’s mother, Valerie Castile, 60, had “broken down” over the death of her only son.
“My nephew was killed by the police” without having done anything wrong, he said, the paper reported.
Valerie Castile and her daughter emerged from the hospital emergency room early Thursday.
“They killed my son,” Valerie Castile said, sobbing. “They took a good man, a hard-working man; he worked since he was 18 years old.”
Philando’s grief-stricken sister said, “They killed my brother. They held a gun on him while he was hurting, and did nothing to help him.”
Philando’s cousin, Antonio Johnson, 31, said Philando graduated with honors from St. Paul Central High School, where he was a straight-A student.
He was “a black individual driving in Falcon Heights who was immediately criminally profiled and he lost his life over it tonight,” Johnson said, the paper reported.
Minnesota court records show only misdemeanors and petty misdemeanors on Philando Castile’s record.
The dead man’s family and friends held a prayer circle outside the hospital early Thursday.
Several relatives, including Valerie Castile, then walked to the Hennepin County medical examiner’s office to see Philando’s body, but were not allowed inside, said Nekima Levy-Pounds, president of the Minneapolis NAACP chapter, who accompanied them.
“The family has a number of concerns about what happened in this case,” Levy-Pounds said, the Star Tribune reported.
“They do not believe that the shooting was warranted in this case. Philando Castile was an upstanding citizen, according to all the reports that we’ve heard,” she said.
Levy-Pounds demanded that an independent agency be appointed to conduct the probe.
“We’re demanding justice; we’re demanding accountability,” she said. “We’re demanding a change to our laws and policies that allow these types of things to happen. Too often officers are taught to shoot first and ask questions last, and that’s completely unacceptable.”
Levy-Pounds told a 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.
Nearby resident Katherine Bleth said she was driving home when she saw the crime scene “right in front of me.”
“Cop cars were rushing past us; we knew something was wrong,” she said.
She videotaped a cop performing CPR on a man lying outside a car, then saw paramedics put him on a stretcher and load him into an ambulance.
“What I see is all my neighbors standing outside, videotaping and very upset,” she said.
A 28-year-old nursing student said she was in a parking lot of a nearby apartment building when the confrontation unfolded.
“I just heard the officer say, ‘Put your hands up,’ and before he finished saying that there were four shots,” said the woman, who declined to be named.
Early Thursday, protesters arrived at the residence of Gov. Mark Dayton in St. Paul, chanting, “No justice, no peace!”
“I’m tired of the laws and policies on the books being used to justify murder,” Levy-Pounds told the crowd. “This is completely unacceptable. Somebody say, ‘Enough is enough.’”