Not even a full day after controversy erupted over the brutal execution by police officers of a Black man – Alton Sterling – who was selling CDs in front of a Convenience store in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, a police officer in Falcon Heights, Minnesota shot and killed a 32 year old by the name of Philando Castile in front of his girlfriend and daughter. As Castile breathed the last moments of his life, his girlfriend Lavish Reynolds live-streamed what was happening live on Facebook for the world to bear witness.
Castile along with his girlfriend and young daughter were pulled over because of a broken tail-light. During the encounter the as-of-yet unnamed officer told Castile to produce his identification (why officers feel the need to ask passengers for identification as opposed to just the person driving the vehicle is suspicious), to which he proceeded to comply. Being that Castile is purportedly a licensed gun carrier, he informed the officer of that fact so that he wouldn’t be alarmed when he saw a gun in the same pocket he carries his I.D. in. Despite the forewarning, the officer’s immediate reaction was to brutally execute the 32 year old father right before his girlfriend and his 4 year old child’s very eyes.
Per the Washington Post:
“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 said.
Castile moaned and appeared to lose consciousness as the officer could be heard in the background shouting expletives in apparent frustration.
“Ma’am, keep your hands where they are,” he shouted at Reynolds. “I told him not to reach for it! I told him to get his hands up.”
“You told him to get his ID, sir, his driver’s license,” Reynolds responded. “Oh my god. Please don’t tell me he’s dead. Please don’t tell me my boyfriend just went like that.”
The most calm and mature person during this entire incident is the person who arguably should be the most frantic, Lavish Reynolds. The police officers, on the other hand, are screaming frantically and yelling expletives at the woman whose loved one was just needlessly killed. Despite their being the only real criminals at the scene, the officers order Ms. Reynolds to get out of the car with her hands up, to walk towards them backwards (“face away from me and walk faster,” one of them yells), before finally telling her to get on her knees so that they can place her in handcuffs in the back of a police car. Sadly the man who carried out the execution will likely never be similarly placed in handcuffs or arrested for committing this crime.
At one point in the back of the police car Lavish Reynolds finally broke down in agony over the loss of the man she loved, to which her young child responds by trying to comfort her grieving mother, saying “It’s okay. I’m here with you.” For now the whereabouts of Ms. Reynolds are unknown, and the mother of Philando Castile is deeply worried about her as she cannot even be located. What is certain is that this is a family whose lives have been forever altered due to the actions of a police officer whose disregard for the lives of others have carved yet another gaping wound on the soul of this broken nation. In the meantime the rest of us will wonder why it is that true justice in this country remains elusive.