FALCON HEIGHTS, Minn. (CBSNewYork/AP) — Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton said he’s pressing for a federal investigation into the fatal police shooting of a black man in a St. Paul suburb.
The aftermath of the shooting was livestreamed in a widely shared Facebook video.
Dayton said Thursday he spoke on the phone with White House Chief of Staff Denis McDonough to request that the U.S. Department of Justice launch an investigation into Philando Castile’s death independent of the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension probe.
Dayton said the incident appeared to involved the excessive use of force, and said he didn’t believe it would have happened if a white couple was in the car. He also offered condolences to Castile’s family, friends and the community as demonstrators gathered outside his residence.
St. Anthony Police interim police chief Jon Mangseth said the incident began Wednesday when an officer from his agency initiated a traffic stop in the St. Paul suburb of Falcon Heights, but did not further explain what led to the shooting.
In the video posted on Facebook Live, Castile’s girlfriend, Diamond Reynolds, is in the car next to her boyfriend, who is bloodied and slumped in a seat. It was posted to Reynolds’ Facebook page under the name “Lavish Reynolds.”
WARNING: VIDEO CONTAINS GRAPHIC CONTENT
She describes being pulled over for a “busted tail light” and said Castile was shot as he told the officer that he was carrying a pistol, for which he was licensed. In the video, she said Castile was reaching for his ID and wallet when the officer shot him.
“Please lord don’t tell me that he’s gone,” she says. “Please officer, don’t tell me that you did this.”
At one point, the officer is heard telling her to keep her hands up and says, “I told him not to reach for it. I told him to get his hand out.”
“You shot four bullets into him, sir,” Reynolds replies. “He was just getting his license and registration, sir.”
The video then shows Reynolds getting out of the car and being handcuffed. A little girl can also be seen. At one point, the girl is heard saying, “I’m scared, Mommy.”
“The police just shot my boyfriend for no apparent reason,” Reynolds says as she described being put in the back seat of the police car.
Castile died soon after getting to the hospital.
Mangseth said he was aware of the video but had not seen it. He did not have details about the reason for the stop and said no one else was injured. Police said a gun was recovered at the scene.
Reynolds told reporters Thursday that Castile did “nothing but what the police officer asked of us, which was to put your hands in the air and get your license and registration.”
She said other officers at the scene didn’t check on Castile after the shooting, but that they tried to calm the officer involved as they put her in the police car. She didn’t know the officer’s name but described him as Asian.
As word of the shooting spread, Castile’s relatives joined scores of people who gathered at the scene and outside the hospital where he died.
About 200 protesters also gathered and demanded action at the governor’s mansion in nearby St. Paul. By daybreak, around 50 protesters remained outside the mansion despite a light rain.
On Thursday, Castile’s family spoke out about the 32-year-old, who worked as a cafeteria manager at a local school.
“Serving children in school, this man was so docile and laid back,” his uncle Clarence Castile said.
“He’s never been in no trouble. He did everything by the law and he died by the law, the hand of the law,” his mother, Valerie Castile, said. “He did everything he was supposed to as far as being a law-abiding citizen.”
Valerie Castile told CNN her son was just “black in the wrong place” and that he was a victim of “a silent war against African American people.”
Police did not release any details about the officer who fired except to say he had been placed on paid administrative leave.
“It’s just, like, we’re animals. It’s basically modern-day lynching that we’re seeing going on, expect we’re not getting hung by a tree anymore we’re getting killed on camera,” Castile’s sister, Alize, said. “And these officers are being able to go home to their family on paid leave.”
The Castile family says officials wouldn’t let them identify his body and that they will have to wait until after the autopsy to see him.
Online Minnesota court records show Castile had some misdemeanor violations, mainly related to driving.
As CBS2’s Tony Aiello reported, the situation resonated with Mayor de Blasio, whose son and daughter are mixed race.
“No parents of color, or parent of a child of color in this country can watch that and not be afraid. You fear for the life of a child when you see a situation like this,” he said.
At the same time of Castile’s shooting, protesters gathered Wednesday over another police-involved shooting in Louisiana.
On Tuesday, 37-year-old Alton Sterling was killed by Baton Rouge police officers while restrained.
Sterling was selling CDs outside of a convenience store when police responded to reports he was threatening someone with a gun. It has not been confirmed if he was carrying weapon.
“It is irrelevant,” family attorney Edmund Jordan said. “If you look at the video, it speaks for itself. Mr. Sterling was not reaching for a weapon.”
The FBI and U.S. Justice Department are leading the investigation.
“We want to get to the answers,” said Baton Rouge Police Chief Carl Dabadie Jr. “That’s why we felt its best to have an independent and transparent investigation.”
Both of the officers involved in that case have been placed on administrative leave.
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