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Protests erupt in Twin Cities after police shoot, kill man

ST. PAUL -- A police officer fatally shot a 32-year-old man during a traffic stop in Falcon Heights on Wednesday night and his girlfriend live-streamed the immediate aftermath. She said in the graphic Facebook video that he had a legal license to...

Police shooting
Protests erupt overnight following a police shooting Wednesday night in Falcon Heights.

ST. PAUL -- A police officer fatally shot a 32-year-old man during a traffic stop in Falcon Heights on Wednesday night and his girlfriend live-streamed the immediate aftermath. She said in the graphic Facebook video that he had a legal license to carry a firearm and had been reaching for his ID when the officer fired several times.

St. Anthony police provided few immediate details about what led to the shooting, which drew a large crowd to the scene near the Minnesota State Fairgrounds and later outside the Governor’s Residence in St. Paul. About 3 a.m. Thursday, people leaned on car horns outside the Summit Avenue residence and shouted, “Wake them up! Wake them up!” It wasn’t immediately clear whether Gov. Mark Dayton was at the residence.

Family of the man who was killed identified him at Hennepin County Medical Center in Minneapolis as Philando Castile.

Castile was black, and his death follows heightened concern nationwide and in Minnesota about deadly encounters black men have had with police.

Interim St. Anthony Police Chief Jon Mangseth said at a 2 a.m. Thursday news conference that a St. Anthony police officer initiated a traffic stop about 9 p.m. Wednesday at Larpenteur Avenue and Fry Street, on the north end of the fairgrounds. St. Anthony provides police services in Falcon Heights.

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“During the stop, shots were fired,” Mangseth said. “One adult male was taken to the hospital. We have been informed that this individual is deceased. No one else was injured and the BCA (Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension) has been called in to investigate this officer-involved shooting. A handgun was recovered from the scene. The BCA will provide additional information as their investigation progresses.”

Mangseth said the officer has been put on standard paid administrative leave. He read the brief statement at the press conference and took no questions.

The Facebook video, which was nearly 10 minutes long and broadcast live initially, shows a blood-soaked man moaning in the driver’s seat of the car, apparently suffering from a gunshot wound.

The video had been viewed more than 1.5 million times on Facebook as of 1:30 a.m. Thursday. The video and the profile of the woman who posted it, Lavish Reynolds, were unavailable for part of the night, and became viewable again some time after midnight. Facebook reportedly said that a technical glitch kept the video from being viewed.

“Stay with me,” said the woman to the man sitting next to her in the driver’s seat of the car. (The video is flipped, giving the appearance that the man is in the passenger’s seat, but the steering wheel is in front of him.) Blood saturated his white shirt and he was moaning.

“We got pulled over for a busted taillight in the back and the police just … killed my boyfriend. … He’s licensed to carry. He was trying to get out his ID and his wallet out his pocket and 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.”

An officer could be seen standing on the driver’s side of the car, pointing a handgun toward them. He told the woman to keep her hands up.

“He just shot his arm off,” the woman continued. “We got pulled over on Larpenteur.”

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The agitated officer shouted, “I told him not to reach for it! I told him to get his hand out!”

“You told him to get his ID, sir, and his driver’s license,” the woman continued. “Oh, my God, please don’t tell me he’s dead. Please don’t tell me my boyfriend just went like that. … Please, officer, don’t tell me that you just did this to him. You shot four bullets into him, sir. He was just getting his license and registration, sir.”

The woman said later in the video that she didn’t know her boyfriend’s condition and that her 4-year-old daughter had witnessed the shooting.

“He don’t deserve this,” the woman said as she wailed in the video. “He’s a good man. He works for St. Paul Public Schools. … He’s never been in jail, anything. He’s not a gang member, anything.”

Later, the woman continued recording when she said she was handcuffed in the back seat of a police car with her daughter. “Don’t be scared,” she told the girl. The child said, “It’s OK, mommy” and told her she was there with her.

More than 200 people gathered at the scene on Larpenteur Avenue late Wednesday. Some shouted anti-police protests as investigators worked.

By the time investigators hauled the car away at 1:30 a.m. Thursday, some 300 people were at the scene, which remained peaceful.

Shortly after midnight, Nekima Levy-Pounds, the Minneapolis NAACP president, left the scene and said she was going to HCMC. As she left, she said, “Please keep the peace, y’all.”

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One woman at the scene said Castile was a cook and kitchen supervisor at J.J. Hill Montessori Magnet School in St. Paul. The St. Paul elementary school’s website lists Castile as the cafeteria supervisor.

Michelle Gross, Communities United Against Police Brutality president, said in her 30 years of activist work “this is the first time I can ever remember someone live-streaming the killing of their loved one.” She said the situation is “very disturbing.”

In November, a 24-year-old black man was fatally shot in a confrontation with two white Minneapolis police officers. Subsequent state and federal investigations ended with no charges being filed in the death of Jamar Clark.

Castile’s death was at least the second this week in the U.S. of a black man by police officers. In Baton Rouge, La., the U.S. Justice Department said Wednesday it will investigate the fatal shooting Tuesday of a 37-year-old black man by two white officers. That incident was also recorded by bystanders, with the video widely circulating on social media.

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