(SAINT PAUL, Minn.) — The woman whose boyfriend was fatally shot by a Minnesota police officer Wednesday night has spoken out about the tragedy.
A grief-stricken Diamond Reynolds stood in front of the Minnesota governor’s residence in St. Paul this morning, where friends consoled her and a crowd of protesters surrounded her. Just hours after her video of the deadly altercation went viral on social media, Reynolds spoke out about the incident for the first time as a friend live-streamed the speech on Facebook.
“The police did this,” Reynolds told the crowd, sobbing. “The police killed him in front of my daughter.”
Reynolds said she was driving with her boyfriend Philando Castile and her young daughter from the grocery store in Falcon Heights, a suburb of St. Paul, when police pulled them over for a busted tail light. An officer who came to the car window asked for Castile’s license and registration. At that point Castile notified the officer that he was carrying a gun, Reynolds said.
“I begin to yell, ‘But he’s licensed to carry,’” she told the crowd. “After that, [the officer] begin to take off shots, bop bop bop bop, ‘Don’t move, don’t move!’”
That’s when Reynolds took out her cellphone and started live-streaming on Facebook, she said. The video, which was briefly removed from Facebook but later republished with a warning of graphic content, appears to show Reynolds – sitting in a car with Castile, whose shirt appears soaked in blood – calmly saying an officer shot her boyfriend.
At least one uniformed officer is seen pointing a gun through the driver’s side window at Castile, who appears lifeless in the car seat. The officer can be heard saying in the video, “I told him not to reach for it. I told him to get his hand out.”
After shooting her boyfriend, Reynolds said the officer was crying and yelled, “F—, oh my God. I can’t believe it, I can’t believe it.”
Reynolds continued to live-stream for several minutes, even as officers asked her to step out of the car and sit in the back of a police vehicle. She credited her calmness to her 4-year-old daughter.
“My daughter was my lifeline,” she told the crowd outside the governor’s mansion. “My daughter told me to stay strong and that’s what I had to do. My daughter told me, ‘Don’t cry,’ and that’s what I had to do.”
Reynolds said police detained her and her daughter at the police precinct in Falcon Heights until early this morning. She said the officers seized her cellphone and groceries from the car.
“They separated my daughter from me. They didn’t feed us and they tried to place the blame like it was something we did,” she said. “I was not released until 5 o’clock this morning when I arrived at my house with two squad cars.”
Reynolds described Castile as a “very loving” and “sweet man,” who was not the father of her daughter but acted like one. She said he was hard-working and didn’t have a criminal history.
“They took a part of my heart,” a visibly distressed Reynolds said. “He didn’t have any last words. His eyes rolled in the back of his head and he was dead instantly.”
Castile was employed as a nutrition services supervisor at J.J. Hill Montessori Magnet School, according to the St. Paul Public Schools. He also worked at Arlington High School and Chelsea Heights Elementary School during his employment with the district, the school system said.
The St. Anthony Police Department, which has jurisdiction over Falcon Heights, said in a statement earlier today that at 9 p.m. on Wednesday, “a St. Anthony police officer effected a traffic stop on Larpenteur and Fry in the City of Falcon Heights, Minnesota. During the stop, shots were fired. One adult male was taken to the hospital. We have been informed that this individual is deceased.”
Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton said in a statement today that he has asked the U.S. Department of Justice to start “an immediate independent federal investigation into this matter.” He said the Bureau of Criminal Apprehension has opened an independent investigation at the state level.
“I will do everything in my power to help protect the integrity of that investigation, to ensure a proper and outcome for all involved,” Dayton said.
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