Minnesota Police Officer Fatally Shoots Black Man During Traffic Stop, Girlfriend Broadcasts Confrontation Live on Facebook

The scene in Minnesota after a black man was fatally shot during a traffic stop
The scene in Minnesota after a black man was fatally shot during a traffic stop

A Minnesota traffic stop turned deadly Wednesday evening when a police officer opened fire on a black driver and killed him — less than 48 hours after another fatal police shooting in Louisiana.

The confrontation’s bloody aftermath was broadcast live on Facebook by a female passenger in the car.

“He killed my boyfriend,” Diamond “Lavish” Reynolds said in the video posted on her Facebook page.

Wednesday’s victim, 32-year-old Philando Castile, died at a Minneapolis hospital, a family member told The Washington Post.

Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton (D) said Thursday that he has asked the White House for a federal investigation into the shooting. In a statement, Dayton said he spoke with Denis McDonough, the White House chief of staff, to ask that the Justice Department look into the episode.

The Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension has already opened an investigation into the fatal shooting, Dayton said.

As blood soaked through Castile’s shirt Wednesday night, Reynolds said on camera that Castile was legally licensed to carry a firearm and was reaching for his identification when the officer started to shoot.

“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.

Castile moaned and appeared to lose consciousness as the officer shouted expletives in the background in apparent frustration.

“Ma’am, keep your hands where they are,” he yelled 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 incident occurred in Falcon Heights, Minn., a quiet St. Paul suburb that is a few miles from St. Anthony. The St. Anthony Police Department confirmed the driver’s death during a brief news conference Thursday morning but did not identify the officer involved in the shooting or his race.

Castile’s family members and friends said was a “good man” who worked for St. Paul Public Schools.

Reynolds told reporters on Thursday morning that she and Castile were on their way home when he was shot. Castile had just gotten a haircut for his upcoming birthday, she said, and then they had gone grocery shopping.

The two were pulled over for a broken tail light.

Reynolds said the officer came to the window and instructed them to put their hands in the air. He then asked to see Castile’s license and registration, which, Reynolds said, Castile kept in a thick wallet in a pants pocket.

“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. “After that, he [the officer] began to take off shots: ba ba ba ba. ‘Don’t move, don’t move!’”

“But how can you not move when you’re reaching for license and registration?” Reynolds said. “It’s either you want my hands in the air or you want my identification.”

Authorities did not provide details about the encounter during two early morning press conferences.

The Justice Department said Thursday that it was “aware of the incident and is assessing the situation.”

White House press secretary Josh Earnest told reporters aboard Air Force One that the president “is deeply disturbed” by the reports of shootings in Minneapolis and Louisiana.

Rep. Keith Ellison (D-Minn.), whose district is about 2 miles from the scene, told CNN the shooting was not an isolated incident.

“There is a systematic targeting of African Americans and a systematic lack of accountability,” Ellison said.

Castile’s death followed the fatal police shooting of another black man, Alton Sterling, in Baton Rouge, La.

In both cases, cellphone video footage of the incident or its immediate aftermath quickly circulated on social media, fueling anger and protests over the police officers’ actions.

From her video, Reynolds appears to have begun recording seconds after her boyfriend was shot, just after 9 p.m. local time. (The footage appears to have been flipped when it was uploaded to social media sites, mistakenly suggesting Castile was the passenger in the car when, in fact, he was the driver.)

Castile’s mother, Valerie Castile, told CNN early Thursday morning that she first found out her son had been shot when she heard her daughter, who was watching the video on social media, start to scream.

“I was like, ‘What’s going on? What’s wrong with you?’” she told CNN.

She said she rushed to the scene to see him but was stopped by police.

“I asked them where was my son was at,” she told CNN. “I didn’t want to talk to anyone. I just wanted to know where my son was because I didn’t want my son to die alone.”

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SOURCE: The Washington Post, Michael E. Miller, Wesley Lowery and Lindsey Bever