US police shooting of second black man sparks public outcry

Woman livestreams aftermath of her boyfriend being shot dead after he was pulled over by police in Minnesota, two days after two cops shot a man pointblank in the chest in Louisiana.

Photo by: AFP
Photo by: AFP

Protesters block traffic and dance on the hood of a car near Triple S Food Mart where Alton Sterling was shot and killed by a police officer, July 6, 2016 in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.

Protesters and activists are demanding justice after the US police fatally shot a man during a routine traffic stop in front of his girlfriend and a child on Wednesday night. The fatal shooting of Philando Castile, 32, in Falcon Heights, Minnesota was captured in graphic detail on Facebook livestream.

This was the second fatal police shooting within two days of a black man, following the death of Alton Sterling in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. Sterling was pinned to the ground and shot in the chest by two white police officers on TuesdayPeaceful protests continued in Baton Rouge into early Thursday morning as hundreds gathered to build pressure on the police to prosecute the officer in question. 

Minnesota Governor Mark Dayton said he has asked the White House to order a federal investigation into Castile's shooting by the police following a traffic stop. 

"I promise I will do everything and my administration will do everything in our power to see this matter brought to justice," Dayton told reporters outside the statehouse. "Justice will be served in Minnesota."

On camera

A Facebook video recorded by Castile’s girlfriend appears to show the aftermath of the shooting, a man can be seen wearing a blood-soaked white t-shirt and slumped in the driver’s seat of the car while an officer is at the window pointing a gun inside.

The video was streamed on a Facebook account under the name Lavish Reynolds. CNN affiliate WCCO spoke to Castile’s family who identified the woman as Diamond Reynolds.

"Oh my god, please don't tell me that he's gone. Please, officer, don't tell me that you just did this to him," the woman is heard saying.

"He's licensed to carry. He was trying to get out his ID and his wallet out of his pocket and he let the officer know that he was — he had a firearm and he was reaching for his wallet."

Speaking to Castile, the woman says: "Stay with me! We got pulled over for a busted tail-light in the back, and the police just … he's covered. They killed my boyfriend."

The officer involved in the shooting is heard saying "F*ck. I told him not to reach for it!" to which the woman replies: "You told him to get his ID, sir, his driver's licence."

"Oh my God, please don't tell me he's dead. My daughter just witnessed this," the woman is heard saying.

"It's OK mommy," the little girl says. "It's OK. I'm right here with you."

Killed by those meant to protect and served

The victim's uncle, Clarence Castile, speaking to NBC News said his nephew had a concealed weapons permit to carry a firearm.

"My nephew, he wasn't trying to pull a weapon on those police," Clarence Castile said. "He was reaching for ID."

"My nephew was executed," Clarence Castile added. "They are going to try and make my nephew out to be a bad guy and get away with murdering another young black man."

Valerie Castile, the victim's mother, told CNN he died before she could reach the hospital where he was taken. "They didn't let me see my son's body at all," she said. "I have not identified my son's body because they didn't let me." 

She expressed shock; "I never once in my life would have thought that my son would be killed by the persons that were supposed to protect and serve him."

Protesters gathered overnight near the scene of the shooting chanting "No Justice, No Peace" and "Prosecute the Police." Some had gathered outside the governor’s mansion as news spread about the death of Castile, who worked as a kitchen supervisor for the St Paul school district.

Earlier, Minneapolis NAACP president Nekima Levy-Pounds was among the crowd and called on Governor Dayton to "wake up and make a statement" about the shooting. "This is completely unacceptable," she told the crowd. "Enough is enough!"

She had told reporters Castile was "an upstanding citizen according to all the reports we've heard," and added, "We just have a number of questions about how something like this could happen once again."

Castile and Sterling shootings sparked a massive outcry on social media, with many expressing dismay that two such incidents could happen in such a short time.

Investigating the police

The Minneapolis shooting came hours after the US Justice Department said it had opened an investigation into Tuesday's fatal shooting in Louisiana.

The department said it was assessing the Minneapolis incident but did not say if it would start a formal investigation into whether excessive force was used.

The St Anthony Police Department in a statement said a handgun was recovered from the scene and the officer involved has been placed on paid administrative leave.

Interim St Anthony police chief Sergeant Jon Mangseth in a press conference said he did not have details on what prompted the traffic stop and he was aware of the livestream but hadn't seen the video. The officer involved in the shooting has been with the police department for around five years, he added.

TRTWorld and agencies