Millions watch after 'they killed my boyfriend'

FALCON HEIGHTS, Minn. -- Diamond Reynolds' video of her dying boyfriend wearing a blood-drenched T-shirt was poignant enough, but then her 4-year-old daughter told her: "That's OK, mommy. That's OK, I'm right here with you."...

Diamond Renolds, second left, speaks, sobs and prays outside of Gov. Mark Dayton's St Paul home on Thursday, July 7, 2016. Her boyfriend, Philando Castile, was shot by police on Wednesday evening while she and her four-year-old daughter were in the car. (Pioneer Press: Rachel E. Stassen-Berger)

FALCON HEIGHTS, Minn. -- Diamond Reynolds' video of her dying boyfriend wearing a blood-drenched T-shirt was poignant enough, but then her 4-year-old daughter told her: "That's OK, mommy. That's OK, I'm right here with you."

Reynolds' nine-minute, 46-second video recounted the shooting death of 32-year-old Philando Castile after what she said was a traffic stop for a broken tail light near the state fairgrounds in Falcon Heights, a suburb just north of St. Paul. Some saw it live on Facebook on Wednesday night, millions watched it Thursday as word spread that a St. Anthony police officer shot and killed the school lunch worker.

"They killed my boyfriend," Reynolds said into her smartphone camera moments after shots were fired.

Later, she wondered into the phone, not knowing if anyone was listening, whether Castile really was dead or just wounded.

The video showed him groaning, then his head leaning back between the car's front seats.


Early in the video, an obviously agitated officer could be heard shouting: "I told him not to reach for it. I told him to get his hand out."

Reynolds told the officer, whose pistol still was aimed at Castile: "You told him to get his ID, sir, and his driver’s license. Oh, my God, please don’t tell me he’s dead. Please don’t tell me my boyfriend just went like that."

On Thursday, Reynolds told reporters that Castile did nothing wrong. "Nothing in 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.’ Phil did nothing but what the police officer asked of him, which was to 'put your hands in the air and get your license and registration.'"

She said the officer fired four or five shots.

Through heavy tears Thursday, Reynolds told protesters and reporters in front of the governor's residence that "I want justice. ... The police took an innocent man away from us."

Castile died at 9:37 p.m. Wednesday, The Hennepin County Medical Examiner's office reported, a little more than a half-hour after his car was stopped near the state fairgrounds by St. Anthony police, who provide law enforcement for Falcon Heights.

The shooting occurred on Larpenteur Avenue, a major east-west street.

Protesters gathered at the scene, then went to the governor's residence early Thursday, starting an all-day protest. Police closed Summit Avenue in front of the state-owned home.


"The police did this to me and did this to my daughter," Reynolds said at Summit Avenue.

As many 300 people gathered peacefully at Summit Avenue. Many expressed support for the 4-year-old, who was in the back seat when Castile was shot.

Minnesota House Minority Leader Paul Thissen, D-Minneapolis, called the girl's attempt to comfort her mother "heartbreaking. And there is truth in the words of children that everyone involved in this is a human being, something we too often forget in these crude times."

Reynolds said her 4-year-old daughter told her Castile had died. “She is an angel. She knew he was gone before I did. She said, 'Mom, the police are bad guys.'"

Castile's mother expressed shock. "I never once in my life would have thought that my son would be killed by the persons that were supposed to protect and serve him," Valerie Castile said on CNN.

Castile described her son as a "laid back" but industrious man who worked as a St. Paul school cafeteria supervisor and enjoyed playing video games.

Interim St. Anthony Police Chief Jon Mangseth said at news conference, where he answered no questions, that a St. Anthony police officer initiated a traffic stop about 9 p.m. Wednesday.

"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. ... A handgun was recovered from the scene."


While hundreds gathered in front of the governor's residence, others visited a makeshift memorial near where Castile was shot.

Gabriella Dunn of White Bear Lake went to the site of the shooting with her 4-year-old daughter and 1-year-old son.

"I don’t hate cops, there are good cops, but this thing -- in front of (a) 4 year old -- my God, I can’t imagine." said Dunn, as she looked at her own daughter.

Dunn, who is biracial, said she has had mixed feelings about the Black Lives Matter movement. "But this was different,” she said. “How can all lives matter if black lives don’t?"


This story contains material the St. Paul Pioneer Press, a Forum News Service media partner.

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