Monday 23 April 2018

One arrest after protest over black driver's shooting by police in Minnesota

Hundreds gather for a vigil following the shooting of Philando Castile (AP)
Hundreds gather for a vigil following the shooting of Philando Castile (AP)

Police have made one arrest after bottles and rocks were thrown by a rogue group of protesters who broke away from a peaceful demonstration outside the governor of Minnesota's residence following a fatal police shooting.

Officers said the group made their way to a nearby commercial street in St Paul where they broke the window of one business as well as windows in an unattended police car.

Hundreds of demonstrators remained outside governor Mark Dayton's mansion in St Paul to support family and friends grieving a black man who was shot by police during a routine traffic stop.

The gathering was the second time a crowd had gathered outside the governor's residence after the shooting of Philando Castile by a police officer in suburban Falcon Heights.

Mr Dayton spoke individually with demonstrators but did not address the crowd as a whole.

Earlier he told the crowd the officer probably would not have fired if the driver had been white, jumping into a suddenly reignited national debate over how law enforcement treats people of colour.

Mr Castile's girlfriend streamed the aftermath of his shooting live on Facebook. The school cafeteria supervisor had been shot "for no apparent reason" while reaching for his wallet after telling the officer he had a gun and a permit to carry it, she says in the video.

"Would this have happened if those passengers would have been white? I don't think it would have," Mr Dayton said to the crowd.

Mr Castile was shot in Falcon Heights, a mostly white community of 5,000 served primarily by nearby St Anthony Police Department.

In the video, Diamond Reynolds describes being pulled over for a "busted tail light". Ms Reynolds told reporters 32-year-old Mr Castile did "nothing but what the police officer asked of us, which was to put your hands in the air and get your licence and registration".

The video she streamed on Facebook Live shows her in a car next to a bloodied Mr Castile slumped in a seat. A clearly distraught person who appears to be a police officer stands at the car's window, 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 licence and registration, sir," Ms Reynolds calmly responds.

State investigators named the two officers involved as Jeronimo Yanez and Joseph Kauser. Both have been with St Anthony Police Department for four years and have been put on administrative leave, as is standard.

Mr Yanez approached Mr Castile's car from the driver's side, and Mr Kauser from the passenger side, according to the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension. The agency said Mr Yanez opened fire, striking Mr Castile multiple times.

Several videos, including squad car video of the incident, have been collected, but St Anthony officers do not wear body cameras, the agency said.

At a vigil outside the Montessori school where Mr Castile worked, his mother Valerie Castile called her son "an angel". She recalled cautioning him to always comply with police, and said she never thought she would lose him.

"This has to cease. This has to stop, right now," she told the crowd.


Press Association

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