ST PAUL, Minn. The second fatal police shooting of a black man in two days sparked outrage in the United States on Thursday, this one particularly chilling because the victim's girlfriend posted live video on the internet of the bloody scene minutes afterward.
The killing of Philandro Castile, 32, who was shot by a police officer after a traffic stop on Wednesday, prompted Minnesota Governor Mark Dayton to call on the U.S. Department of Justice to begin an investigation.
“This kind of behavior is unacceptable,” Dayton said, adding that a state investigation was already under way.
Castile’s death occurred within a day of the shooting of 37-year-old Alton Sterling in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. Sterling was killed during an altercation with two white police officers. Graphic video of that incident triggered protests and an outcry on social media.
Castile’s girlfriend, Diamond Reynolds, videotaped the minutes immediately following his shooting and posted it on Facebook Live. Castile, who was driving, was shot with Reynolds and her 4-year-old daughter in the car. The graphic video showed blood oozing through Castile's shirt as he appeared to lose consciousness.
In a Facebook post on Thursday, President Barack Obama said he and wife Michelle shared the "anger, frustration and grief" many Americans feel.
"All Americans should be deeply troubled by the fatal shootings.... We've seen such tragedies far too many times, and our hearts go out to the families and communities who've suffered such a painful loss."
The use of force by police against African-Americans in cities from Ferguson, Missouri, to Baltimore and New York has sparked periodic and sometimes violent protests in the past two years, and has spawned a movement called Black Lives Matter. Anger has intensified when the officers involved in such incidents have been acquitted or not charged at all.
Reynolds' video depicted a police officer outside the car pointing a gun. Reynolds described what was going on, sometimes speaking calmly to the police officer, sometimes with her voice rising as she feared Castile was dying.
Reynolds said Castile, 32, was shot after police pulled their car over, citing a broken tail light. "Nothing within his body language said 'Kill me, I want to be dead,'" she said on Thursday.
Dozens of protesters gathered at the governor's mansion in St. Paul, about 10 miles (15 km) southeast of the scene of the incident, where the governor spoke at a news conference with Reynolds and civil rights activists.
As Reynolds spoke, people shouted "murder," and called for the arrest of the police officer involved.
The St. Anthony Police Department said only that an unidentified black man was wounded during a traffic stop in Falcon Heights, Minnesota, on Wednesday evening. He was taken to a hospital, where he later died. The ethnicity of the police officers involved was not clear. Attempts to reach the police department for further comment were unsuccessful.
Demonstrations over the deaths of Castile, Sterling and other black men killed by police were planned in St. Paul, New York, Chicago and several smaller cities on Thursday evening, according to organizers posting on social media.
Other rallies, including one in Atlanta, were planned for Friday. Protests as far away as London were being discussed on Twitter for the weekend.
'SHAKEN' BY VIDEO
"Many of us watched the video, and we are shaken to capacity at the thought of this," said Nekima Levy-Pounds, president of the Minneapolis chapter of the NAACP rights group.
Reynolds and her daughter were treated like criminals after the incident, Levy-Pounds said. “What this signifies to us is that black lives don’t really matter in the state of Minnesota.”
She said later that local and federal authorities had a pattern of failing to hold officers accountable. "I don't have faith in the system because of all of the injustices and the systemic pattern of failing to hold officers accountable when they kill civilians," Levy-Pounds told Reuters.
The Justice Department said it was assessing the Minneapolis area incident but did not say if it would start a formal investigation. The department has opened an investigation into the Baton Rouge shooting.
Castile's mother, Valerie Castile, described her son as a "laid back" but industrious man who worked as a school cafeteria supervisor and enjoyed playing video games. He had a permit to carry a concealed weapon, she told CNN.
Reynolds said police had not even tried to check if her boyfriend was alive after they shot him, and it had taken at least 15 minutes for paramedics to arrive.
"Not one shot, not two, shots, not three shots, but five shots," she said at the news conference. "They did not check for a pulse at the scene of the crime."
St. Paul Public Schools said in a statement Castile had worked for the district since 2002, and colleagues were mourning a cheerful "team player who maintained great relationships with staff and students."
VIDEO OF AFTERMATH
In the video Reynolds posted to Facebook the shooting, she said her boyfriend had just been pulled over and explained he had a gun he was licensed to carry.
"He was trying to get out his ID and his wallet out of his pocket," Reynolds said. "He let the officer know that he had a firearm and that he was reaching for his wallet, and the officer just shot him in his arm."
Police said a handgun was recovered at the scene.
"Fuck," a distraught man is heard screaming in the video. "I told him not to reach for it."
The shooting was the second-high profile killing of a black man by police in Minnesota in seven months. Two Minneapolis police officers in November shot and killed 24-year-old Jamar Clark in a struggle that broke out when they were called to assist an ambulance crew that was helping Clark's girlfriend.
The Washington Post said Castile was at least the 506th person and 123rd black American shot and killed by police so far in 2016, according to a database it has set up to track such deaths. About 10 percent of those black Americans were unarmed, while about 61 percent had guns, the paper said.
(Additional reporting by Laila Kearney, Bill Trott, Colleen Jenkins, Julia Edwards, Karen Pierog, Michael Hirtzer, Tom Polansek; Writing by Frances Kerry; Editing by Lisa Von Ahn and Cynthia Osterman)
This story has not been edited by Firstpost staff and is generated by auto-feed.
First Published On : Jul 8, 2016 02:01 IST