A man identified as Philando Castile, 32, was shot and killed during a traffic stop Wednesday evening in Falcon Heights, Minnesota that could spark yet another round of social unrest throughout the nation.
St. Anthony Police chief Jon Mangseth said the incident began when an officer from his agency initiated a traffic stop around 9pm, and at some point an officer fired, striking the man. Mangseth said he didn’t know what the reason was, and police didn’t say what led to the shooting. Castile’s girlfriend and a 7-year old child were also in the car when the incident took place, and the girlfriend allegedly started to live stream the incident on Facebook as it started to unfold. Mangseth said he had been “made aware there was a live stream on Facebook” but said he hadn’t yet seen the video and didn’t know anything about its contents.
According to the WSJ, the video shows a woman sitting in a car with a man slumped in a seat wearing a shirt that appeared to be soaked in blood. A person who appeared to be an armed police officer stood at the car’s window. The woman can be heard saying “we got pulled over for a busted taillight.” And the officer tells 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. He was just getting his license and registration, sir” the woman responds.
The girlfriend says the man was licensed to carry a gun and was trying to get his ID and wallet when the officer shot him – police say a handgun was recovered from the scene.
According to the StarTribune, the 10-minute video shows the girlfriend being ordered from her car by several officers, one of whom is holding a child. “Please don’t tell me my boyfriend’s gone.” the girlfriend pleads in the video,. “He don’t deserve this, please. He works for St. Paul Public Schools. He’s never been in jail, anything. He’s not a gang member, anything.” At one point the young girl can be heard saying “I’m scared, mommy.”
“Police just shot my boyfriend for no apparent reason.” the woman says.
A 28-year old nursing student who declined to be named said she was sitting in the parking lot of a nearby apartment building and saw the scene unfold. “I just heard the officer say, ‘Put your hands up,’ and before he finished saying that there were four shots.” the woman said.
Relatives of Castile described him as a good, hardworking man who had worked in the J.J. Hill school cafeteria for 12 to 15 years “cooking for the little kids.”
By 12:30am, dozens of people – peaceful but visibly angry – had gathered at the scene in Falcon Heights, some chanting anti-police slogans. An estimated 100 people protesting the fatal shooting even arrived around 2am at the governor’s residence in St. Paul the StarTribune reports, chanting “No justice, no peace” while car horns sounded, and people could be heard yelling “shut it down!”, and “wake up”, demanding that governor Mark Dayton come out and speak.
This is the power of social media. 200 people are here at the scene of the shooting. It’s been a peaceful gathering pic.twitter.com/qcCWLb3HuU
— Melissa Colorado (@melissacolorado) July 7, 2016
As the crowd grew in number, the crowd moved to the Minnesota Governor’s mansion in St. Paul, shouting and honking their car horns. “No justice, no sleep,” they chanted at the mansion’s gate. “Mark Dayton, do you care?” Reports indicate the governor, Mark Dayton, has been evacuated by police.
— Unicorn Riot (@UR_Ninja) July 7, 2016
— |||| || ||| | |||| | (@micamaryjane) July 7, 2016
— David S (@ItsUncNinja) July 7, 2016
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With the events in Ferguson, Baltimore, and recently a police shooting in Baton Rouge, the country could very well be in for yet another round of severe social unrest. This comes at a time when tensions and rhetoric is already high on the political front as Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton ramp up campaign efforts and negative attack ads on television. And given that the economy is already on very shaky ground, we could be in for a very long remainder of the summer.