A gut-wrenching Facebook Live video captured the moments after a police officer shot a man legally carrying a handgun in Minnesota last night. Lavish Reynolds began streaming live just seconds after her boyfriend, 32-year-old Philando Castile, was shot during a routine traffic stop in the quiet suburb of Falcon Heights shortly after 9 p.m. Wednesday night.
As the video starts just moments after the shooting, Reynolds’ first words are commanding Castile to, “Stay with me!”
Reynolds remained calm and continued to comply with the officer’s orders, referring to him as ‘sir’ and describing the events that had just transpired.
“Ma’am, keep your hands where they are,” he shouted at Reynolds. “I told him not to reach for it! I told him to get his hands up.”
“You told him to get his ID, sir, his driver’s license,” Reynolds responded. “Oh my God. Please don’t tell me he’s dead. Please don’t tell me my boyfriend just went like that.”
The video shows Castile slumped over in the driver’s seat (the video is flipped horizontally when posted on social media) as Reynolds and her 4-year-old daughter remained in the vehicle until complying with backup officer’s commands to come out with her hands up.
[WARNING] Graphic video:
There are many things I took from this video, but first and foremost, I truly feel for this woman and her daughter. It was heartbreaking to hear her crying out in the backseat of the cop car only to have her young daughter reply, “I’m here with you, mommy”.
According to the department’s office manager, Kim Brazil, The St. Anthony’s Police Department doesn’t have body cameras, so Reynolds video is likely all we’ll have to go on until details of the investigation are made public. One thing her video does appear to capture is the officer’s right index finger (remember, the video is flipped) staying on the trigger after Castile was shot “4-5 times” according to Reynolds.
In her video account of what happened, Reynolds lays out a scenario any one of us have been or could be in as gun owners:
“He (the officer) asked him for license and registration he (Castile) told him that man that it was in his wallet but he had a like pistol on him because he’s licensed to carry and the officer told him ‘don’t move’ and as he was putting his hands back up, the officer shot him in his arm about four or five times.”
If the woman’s account is correct, Castile told this police officer the truth about being armed and indicated he was licensed to carry. He then went for the cary permit in his wallet, and was ultimately shot to death.
I personally respond to every officer with, “Sir, there is nothing in this vehicle or on my person that will harm you”, then hand my CCP over with my driver’s license and registration. I know men who keep their wallets on their vehicle console or in plain sight so they don’t have to reach for anything if they are pulled over and women who have their license and registration ready to go before the officer reaches their window. But if Reynolds’ account is accurate—and we’re admittedly going on just her account, after the shooting—Castile did not do anything to warrant being shot and killed.
He did not have a record that would have prevented him from legally carrying. Clarence Castile, Philando’s uncle, told the Minneapolis Star Tribune his nephew has worked as a cafeteria supervisor at JJ Hill Elementary school for 12 to 15 years, “cooking for the little kids” and Castile’s Facebook page says he attended the University of Minnesota.
The other thing to remember is that this case is absolutely nothing like the Alton Sterling case in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. Although he does have a minor record, we could not find any criminal records on Castile that would have prevented him from legally carrying a gun nor does it appear he was doing anything other than following the officer’s commands.
“He’s not a gang banger; he’s not a thug,” Castile’s mother told CNN. “He’s very respectable and I know he didn’t antagonize that officer in any way to make him feel like his life was in danger.”
She also assumed her son would have had his firearm on him at the time of the traffic stop because he was licensed to carry and, “that was something that we always discussed,” however Castile’s mother stated she taught him to “comply” with law enforcement.
“The key thing in order to try to survive being stopped by the police is to comply,” Castile’s mother also said. “Whatever they ask you to do, do it. Don’t say nothing. Just do whatever they want you to do. So what’s the difference in complying and you get killed anyway?
“I made sure my kids understood the difference in being law abiding, and that the police were there to help,” she added. “I never once in my life have thought that my son would actually be killed by the persons that are supposed to protect and serve him.”