Note: The video above contains graphic images.
Within hours of the Louisiana shooting that sparked protest and racial tension, there was another officer-involved shooting — this one in Falcon Heights, Minnesota. Philando Castile, 32, was shot during a traffic stop over a broken tail light, according to his girlfriend.
Castile’s girlfriend, Lavish Reynolds, got out her phone and started live-streaming the aftermath. In the graphic video, as her boyfriend moans beside her in the car, Reynolds explains what has happened:
“They killed my boyfriend. He’s licensed, he’s licensed to carry. He was trying to get his ID and his wallet out of his pocket. He let the officer know that he was…that he had a firearm, and that he was reaching for his ID.”
Also visible in the video is the police officer who fired on Castile. With his weapon still drawn on Castile, the officer, clearly distraught, repeats:
“I told him to stop, I told him not to reach for it.”
But Castile then stops moving, and sources later confirmed that he had died at the scene.
His family members have spoken to the media, saying that he was a good man with just a few blemishes on his record — and police confirmed that he had only ever been cited for “lack of insurance” and “driving with a revoked license.” Multiple relatives confirmed that he did have a legal concealed carry permit.
His mother said that he was simply “black in the wrong place at the wrong time”:
“Everybody that knows my son knows that he is a laid back, quiet individual that works hard every day, pays taxes and comes home and plays video games. That’s it,” she said. “He’s not a gang banger. He’s not a thug. He’s very respectable. And I know he didn’t antagonize that officer in any way to make him feel like his life was threatened.
We’re…hunted every day. It’s a sign of war against African-American people as a whole.”
With the news breaking of another police shooting and another African American victim, Black Lives Matter supporters were quick to respond:
— Kon Karapanagiotidis (@Kon__K) July 7, 2016
— Aaron Tveit (@AaronTveit) July 7, 2016
And protesters have already started appearing:
— Angela Davis (@AngelaDavisWCCO) July 7, 2016
But it isn’t just Black Lives Matter supporters who are speaking out. Gun rights activist Dana Loesch questioned the procedure:
Wow. Not sure how you can show license, registration & also keep your hands in view. Questions on how this happened https://t.co/waRMSfUDMA
— Dana Loesch (@DLoesch) July 7, 2016
As well as a state representative from Missouri:
— Shamed Dogan (@Dogan4Rep) July 7, 2016
And a number of people wondered when the NRA or other 2nd Amendment advocates would speak up on Castile’s behalf:
— dari (@dariferrarii) July 7, 2016
— Sane Brown Conservative RG (@ConservativeRG) July 7, 2016
— Mark Hagen (@MarkwHagen) July 7, 2016
However, the real problem may come down to “conventional wisdom” versus the best way to handle a traffic stop with a weapon:
Some states – like Michigan – require those who are carrying firearms to inform police immediately. By that standard, many assume that when the officer approaches the vehicle, one should tell the officer about any firearms present in the car.
But veteran police officers say that it’s slightly more complicated than that. Former police officer and concealed carry instructor William Starnes explains:
“It is better to say, ‘Officer, I have a handgun in the glovebox; how do you want me to get my registration that is stored there?’ This is not the time to say, as has happened to me, ‘I’ve got a gun!’ That driver found out that I too was carrying that fine day.”
Police in most states recommend that any gun permits be handed to the police officer along with identification – but only when it is asked for – and any hand movements should be slow, deliberate, and explained verbally.
In Minnesota, where the shooting took place, state law does not require the driver to disclose they are carrying a firearm unless the officer specifically asks:
The St. Anthony Police Department issued a press release on the situation, saying that a handgun had been recovered from the scene and that Minnesota’s Bureau of Criminal Apprehension had been called in to investigate.