Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton on Thursday asked the White House to order the Justice Department to step in and help investigate a police shooting of a black man at a traffic stop – an incident that in part was captured by video and posted to Facebook, evoking widespread outrage and anger.
Philando Castile, 32, was killed during a traffic stop by a police officer on Wednesday evening in the neighborhood of Falcon Heights, just a couple days after another black man was fatally shot by a law enforcement official in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, as reported by WND. According to various media accounts, Castile was shot while reaching for his identification.
Castile’s girlfriend, Diamond “Lavish” Reynolds, who was in the car at the time of the stop, posted video of the aftermath of the shooting to her Facebook page alongside a statement that read, “He killed my boyfriend.”
Reynolds also said on video – which she shot on her cell phone in the car, as Castile moaned in pain next to her, his shirt soaked in blood – that her boyfriend was licensed to carry a gun and that officers had been informed of that fact when they approached the car.
“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,” she said, on the video.
Meanwhile, in the background of the video, an officer can be heard shouting, “Ma’am, keep your hands where they are. I told him not to reach for it. I told him to get his hands up.”
Reynolds then responded: “You told him to get his ID, sir, his driver’s license. Oh my God. Please don’t tell me he’s dead. Please don’t tell me my boyfriend just went like that.”
Later in the video, Reynolds – who was for unknown reasons placed in the back of a police cruiser, but kept videotaping – said this: “They shot him four times, he’s licensed to carry, we had a busted tail light and we had some weed in the car, that’s about it.” She described the officer who shot Castile as a “Chinese” man, about 5’5″ or 5’6″ and “heavyset.”
And she went on, saying the officer “asked him for his license and registration which was in the back of his pocket … and when he went to reach, he let the officer know before he was reaching that he had a firearm on him .. and the officer took off shots, about four, five rounds was shot and my boyfriend, i don’t know what condition he’s in … I’m in the back seat of the police car.”
Reynolds on Thursday told reporters she and her boyfriend had been driving home from a haircut place and from a grocery store, when they were pulled over for a broken tail light.
She said the officer approached and asked to see Castile’s license and registration.
“As he’s reaching for his back pocket wallet, he lets the officer know, ‘Officer, I have a firearm on me.’ I begin to yell, ‘But he’s licensed to carry,'” Reynolds said to reporters, the Washington Post reported. “After that, [the police officer] began to take off shots … [saying] ‘Don’t move, don’t move.’ But how can you not move when you’re reaching for license and registration? It’s either you want my hands in the air or you want my identification.”
Police haven’t released an official comment, except to confirm Castile died a short time after the traffic stop at a nearby hospital. But the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension has already kicked off an investigation.
Politicians, meanwhile, have jumped into the story.
Rep. Keith Ellison, who represents a nearby district in the state, said to CNN: “There is a systematic targeting of African Americans and a systematic lack of accountability.”
The Justice Department, on the heels of Dayton’s request for intercession, said it was “aware of the incident and is assessing the situation,” the Washington Post reported.