Philando Castile is the latest victim to have been killed by a police officer who overreacted to a Black man carrying a gun. A day earlier, Alton Sterling was killed in a similar incident. The two men were separated by little other than geography — Castile was in the Minneapolis area; Sterling in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. Both are open carry states where licensed gun owners are permitted to carry weapons.
Sterling’s killing was videotaped, so we actually hear an officer say, “He has a gun,” before seeing a policeman shoot holes through the chest of a restrained Black man.
While only the aftermath of Castile’s shooting was captured, the video is compelling. Castile’s girlfriend, Lavish Reynolds, begins filming after an officer, who had pulled them over for a routine traffic stop, fires bullets into Castile’s arm.
Thinking Castile will survive, she calmly gives her version of events, which go undisputed by the officer still aiming his gun at a dying Castile.
“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,” she says into the camera then aimed it at a bleeding Castile.
“Mam, keep your hands where they are,” the officer shouts at Reynolds. “I told him not to reach for it! I told him to get his hands up.”
Reynolds refutes this. “You told him to get his ID, sir, his driver’s license.”
As Reynolds realizes Castile is dying, she begins retelling her version in a loop, not one word of which is ever disputed by the officer during the seven minutes of filming. All we hear from the officer are expletives as Castile moans.
“Oh my god. Please don’t tell me he’s dead. Please don’t tell me my boyfriend just went like that,” Reynolds said. I imagine a similar refrain was uttered by the loved ones of John Crawford III and 14-year-old Tamir Rice, both gunned down by police while obliviously holding toy guns.