“Please, Officer, don’t tell me that you just did this to him”
Facebook photo of Philando Castile
Right on the heels of Alton Sterling’s death at the hands of Baton Rouge police officers, a black cafeteria worker in Minnesota was shot and killed during a routine traffic stop Wednesday night. Footage of the aftermath was livestreamed by his girlfriend—who was sitting next to him in the car—and went viral almost immediately.
The incident occurred in the small St. Paul suburb of Falcon Heights (#falconheightsshooting is the hashtag for last night’s incident). Philando Castile, 32, who works in a St. Paul Montessori school, was reaching for his paperwork when an unnamed officer shot him at least four times.
The chilling footage captured by his girlfriend, who goes by Diamond Reynolds, according to CNN, propelled this story around the world within an hour of the shooting. Investigators were still on the scene when protesters started arriving. In the video, she gives a detailed retelling of the incidents leading up to the shooting, while continually expressing disbelief and attempting to speak respectfully to the officer.
Reynolds gives a steady account of a traffic stop for a broken taillight, where she says Castile was forthright about the licensed firearm he had in the car. You can make out the officer saying, “I told him not to reach for it. I told him to get his hand out,” at which point Reynolds argues that the officer did tell him to produce his license and registration.
“Please, Jesus, don’t tell me that he’s gone,” she said later in the video. “Please, Officer, don’t tell me that you just did this to him.”
It’s not an easy video to watch, with vivid footage of Castile’s slumped and bloody body, as well as pans to Reynolds’ distraught young daughter in the backseat. It is the very rawness of the cell phone footage which has made this—and so many other recent incidents of police violence towards black men—a near-instant call to action.
Hundreds of angry protesters moved from Castile’s alleged killing spot to the mansion of Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton by early morning Thursday; Dayton was allegedly evacuated. More protests are expected throughout the day.
Warning: graphic and disturbing footage below.