32-year-old Philando Castile died after being shot by a police officer in Falcon Heights, Minnesota while his girlfriend, Lavish Reynolds captured the scene on her cell phone, narrating what’s occurring and streaming it live on Facebook as her daughter cries in the back seat.
In the graphic video, filmed Wednesday, Philando Divall Castile, 32, moans in pain and bleeds through a white T-shirt as the officer who just shot him points a gun through the car window.
Here’s what you need to know about Philando Castile:
1. He Was a Beloved School Cafeteria Worker Who Snuck Extra Graham Crackers to Children
— Wendy R (@WendyRMonkey) July 7, 2016
Castile worked as a cafeteria supervisor at J.J. Hill Montessori School in St. Paul. A statement from the school system said Castile was hired in 2002, at age 19, and was promoted to supervisor two years ago. The statement described him as a “team player who maintained great relationships with staff and students alike” and said he was “quick to greet former coworkers with a smile and hug.”
The statement included this glowing assessment from a co-worker: “Kids loved him. He was smart, over-qualified. He was quiet, respectful, and kind. I knew him as warm and funny; he called me his ‘wing man.’”
— Wendy R (@WendyRMonkey) July 7, 2016
“This was a GOOD MAN,” a parent of a child at the school wrote on Facebook, saying that Castile snuck extra graham crackers to children and hugged a borderline autistic child every day. He “pushed extra food in them like a grandma” and took care to know every single child’s name.
Philando’s uncle, Clarence, said Philando had worked in the cafeteria for 12 to 15 years “cooking for the little kids,” according to the Minneapolis Star-Tribune. Clarence Castile called Philando “a good kid” and said he grew up in St. Paul, Minnesota, also living in Minneapolis.
— Jennifer Mayerle (@jennifermayerle) July 7, 2016
Castile’s mother told the Star-Tribune that her son had worked all of his adult life. “They killed my son,” she said. “They took a good man, a hard-working man; he worked since he was 18 years old.”
2. He Was a Straight-A Student in High School & Had Only a Minor Criminal Record
Philando’s cousin, Antonio Johnson, 31, told the Star-Tribune that Philando was an honors student at St. Paul Central High School, “where he was a straight-A student.” He called Castile “very nonconfrontational.” Some of his friends called him “Doc.”
#PhilandoCastile was a graduate of my high school, St. Paul Central.
— Rachel West (@rwest817) July 7, 2016
In the Facebook Live video, Castile’s girlfriend, Lavish Reynolds, says that he works for the St. Paul school system, is not a gang member, and doesn’t have a criminal record. A search of Minnesota court records turned up zero felony charges and a high volume of cases for minor traffic offenses, such as driving with a revoked license, failure to wear a seat belt, and no proof of insurance. Two marijuana-possession charges were both dismissed. The records show he had not been arrested since 2011, though he had been issued tickets for minor traffic and parking violations. NBC News counted 31 misdemeanor traffic violations, for things like driving without a muffler.
His employment in the school cafeteria would have required him to pass a background check, according to the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension: “Minnesota schools (123B.03) are required to conduct background checks on any employees who will have contact with children as part of their jobs. Organizations who conduct background checks on behalf of schools or school districts may also be provided with this information.”
According to Facebook postings, Philando Castile also had worked at Target, went to the University of Minnesota, and graduated from Central High School in St. Paul, Minnesota. On Facebook, his comments included, “Hard work pays off !!!!!!!” and “It’s hard trying to find sumthing real in this artificial world !!!!” But his life wasn’t all serious. One post showed a liquor bottle and said, “Party all the time !!!!!”
3. He Frequently Posted About Social Justice Causes, & His Sister Posted About Alton Sterling Just Hours Before Castile’s Death
— Katherine Johnson (@KJohnsonKSTP) July 7, 2016
On social media, Philando Castile frequently made comments about social justice. On his Facebook page, he posted a photo of the Black Panther Movement and wrote, “BY ANY MEANS NECESSARY!” In another post, he passed on a Tupac Shakur quote, “They got money for wars but can’t feed the poor.” He also wrote: “GOD IS GOOD!!!!………ALL THE TIME !!!!!!” In another post he said, “They criminalize the black lifestyle !!!!” This is a reoccurring theme in his writings: “We still slaves to the system !!!!!!”
In another post he wrote, “U GOIN TO JAIL NOW !!!!!” to which a friend commented, “You must’ve watch that Video of the bus driver Knockin that Girls Head off … Lol.”
— Jennifer Mayerle (@jennifermayerle) July 7, 2016
Castile’s 23-year-old sister, Allysza Castile, told the Washington Post: “He’s gone.” Through tears, she told the newspaper the family members were gathered at the hospital but were not able to see Castile’s body as of 1 a.m. Thursday. The president of the local NAACP arrived to comfort the family, reported a KARE 11 Newsreporter.
Philando’s sister wrote on Facebook: “They shot my brother !! Lord Jesus !!”
Just a few hours before her brother was shot and killed by the police, the sister posted a comment about the Baton Rouge police shooting of Alton Sterling. That shooting scene, which happened the day before, was also filmed with a cell phone, although it wasn’t streamed live on Facebook. The sister wrote:
“I haven’t watched the video of this man being killed by police and I will not because it will literally break my heart and I’m soo tired of seeing this happen to my PEOPLE for no reason ! All these killings caught camera and still no justice it makes me sick ! RIP #altonsterling
4. Castile Had a Concealed Carry Permit, According to His Girlfriend, & Informed the Officer That He Was Armed
In her Facebook Live video, Lavish Reynolds said that Philando Castile was “licensed to carry” and was “trying to get out his ID” and “let the officer know he had a firearm, and he was reaching for his wallet, and the officer just shot him. … He just shot his arm off.”
In an emotional press conference held Thursday, which you can view above, Reynolds gave a detailed account of the stop that led to Castile’s death, prompted by a “broken taillight, which wasn’t broken.” She described Castile as “the quietest, most laid-back person you would ever meet. He was loving. … Nothing within his body language said intimidation. Nothing within his body said ‘shoot me.’ Nothing within his body language said ‘kill me, I want to be dead.’ He did not do 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 they were returning from the grocery store when stopped, according to CNN.
A bystander captured the shooting scene from a distant vantage point and posted the video on Twitter:
Philando’s uncle Clarence referenced firearms when telling KARE 11 News that Castile was an “upstanding young man.”
“He’s not a gun guy,” the uncle said. “He’s not a shooter, not a killer.”
5. Protests Erupted in the Wake of the Shooting, & the Governor Called for a Federal Investigation
Shortly after the shooting, protests erupted outside the governor’s mansion, where people strung yellow police tape over the gate.
I extend my deepest condolences to the family, friends, and community of Philando Castile. Our state today grieves with them.
This morning, I spoke by phone with White House Chief of Staff Denis McDonough to request that the U.S. Department of Justice begin an immediate independent federal investigation into this matter.
Overnight, the Bureau of Criminal Apprehension began an independent investigation at the state level. They are currently collecting all necessary evidence, and interviewing witnesses, to determine what happened, and to assure that justice in this case is served. I will do everything in my power to help protect the integrity of that investigation, to ensure a proper and just outcome for all involved.
Sgt. Jon Mangseth, interim chief of the St. Anthony Police Department, told the Washington Postthat he could not remember another shooting in the department’s history. He said, “We haven’t had an officer involved shooting in 30 years or more, I’d have to go back in the history books. It’s shocking, it’s not something that occurs in this area often.”
Mangseth said the details were still being investigated. He told the Post that he hadn’t yet seen the Facebook video. At one point in the video, the officer can be heard saying, “I told him not to reach for it! I told him to get his head up!”