The mother of a black man who was shot and killed as he sat in a car with his girlfriend and her 4-year-old child Wednesday night told CNN that relations between the black community and law enforcement have to change because African Americans are “ ... hunted every day,” in the United States.
Valerie Castile, mother of Philando Castile, the man killed Wednesday in Minnesota, said in the interview that her son was guilty only of “being black in the wrong place,” when an officer with the St. Anthony (Minnesota) Police Department fatally shot him.
Castile’s uncle, Clarence Castile, said his family is devastated by his nephew’s death, and after viewing a video of the aftermath of the incident shot by his nephew’s girlfriend, he felt he had watched the "most horrific thing I've ever seen in my life.”
Castile’s girlfriend began streaming the aftermath of the incident live on Facebook, at first calmly explaining what had just happened then begging police to tell her they did not just shoot and kill her boyfriend. According to St. Anthony Police, the incident began when an officer pulled over the car Castile was riding in around 9 p.m. Wednesday in Falcon Heights, a St. Paul suburb.
The video shows the woman in a car next to a bloodied man quietly slumped in a seat. The woman describes being pulled over for a "busted tail light" and her boyfriend being shot as he told the officer that he was carrying a pistol and was licensed. A clearly distraught person who appears to be an armed police officer stands at the car's window, telling the woman to keep her hands where they are and intermittently swearing.
The woman in the video says the man she identified as her boyfriend was reaching for his ID and wallet when the officer shot him. Police said in a statement that a handgun was recovered from the scene.
The officer tells her to keep her hands up and says: "I told him not to reach for it. I told him to get his hand out."
"You shot four bullets into him, sir. He was just getting his license and registration, sir," the woman responds.
The video goes on to show the woman exiting the car and being handcuffed. A young girl can be seen and is heard saying at one point, "I'm scared, Mommy."
In the CNN interview, Valerie Castile said her son would not have challenged the police officer, and according to the video posted by his girlfriend, told the officer that he had a weapon and a “concealed carry” permit.
"Everybody that knows my son knows that he is a laid back, quiet individual that works hard every day, pays taxes and comes home and plays video games. That's it," she said. "He's not a gang banger. He's not a thug. He's very respectable. And I know he didn't antagonize that officer in any way to make him feel like his life was threatened."
"He's not an officer," Clarence Castile said of the policeman who shot his nephew. "He's just a man. An officer is supposed to protect and serve. That was a man who did that. That man is a destroyer and he came into our lives and done something and took something from us."
Castile said that Philando worked as a kitchen supervisor for the St. Paul School District.
"My nephew has a (concealed carry) permit, and still got killed for carrying a gun ... this needs to stop. This happens so often."
"I know my son,” Valerie Castile said, “… we know black people have been killed ... I always told them, whatever you do when you get stopped by police, comply, comply, comply."
The Associated Press contributed to this story. The video was streamed on a Facebook account under the name Lavish Reynolds. Reynolds has also been identified as Diamond Reynolds in some reports.