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Protesters Gather After Minn. Man Dies After An Encounter With Police

DAVID GREENE, HOST:

In a suburb of St. Paul, Minn., last night, an African-American man named Philando Castile was fatally shot during an encounter with police. People learned about this from a video on social media. And in the early hours of this morning, protesters gathered outside the governor's mansion in St. Paul.

(SOUNDBITE OF PROTEST)

UNIDENTIFIED PROTESTERS: (Chanting) These racist cops have got to go. Hey hey. Oh oh. No justice, no peace. Dispute the police.

GREENE: We're told protesters were hoping to wake up the governor to deal with this. As for that video, some listeners could find it disturbing. A woman who identified herself as the victim's girlfriend streamed it on Facebook.

(SOUNDBITE OF VIDEO)

DIAMOND REYNOLDS: Oh, my god. Please don't tell me he's dead. Please don't tell me my boyfriend just went like that.

GREENE: We're joined now by Minnesota Public Radio's Tim Nelson, who has been covering the story. Tim, good morning to you.

TIM NELSON, BYLINE: Good morning.

GREENE: So just hearing the dramatic voice of that woman - I mean, can you sort of set the scene? What is happening this video?

NELSON: Right. There - she's pulled over on a street between Minneapolis and St. Paul for what she says is a broken taillight. The video doesn't actually show the shooting. It picks up several seconds later.

And it's shot from the driver's seat of the car. It shows a man laying bleeding on the seat next to her. And right out the window is a police officer with his gun drawn pointing at the wounded man. The wounded man is groaning and obviously in distress. Now, the woman says that she was pulled over just for this broken taillight.

She said that her boyfriend told police that he had a permit to carry a handgun and he was armed. She said the officer fired four times as she believed he reached for his wallet.

The video, I should say, also shows her later talking to a young girl who may be her daughter, who was also apparently in the car when the shooting happened. But apparently she had the presence of mind to start recording this when the shots went off.

GREENE: A lot of questions here - are the police saying anything at this point?

NELSON: They're not. They have turned this over to the state's Bureau of Criminal Apprehension for an investigation. That's standard operating procedure here in Minnesota. The police departments here generally like to turn these investigations over to third parties. And they generally stop talking about the details when they do that.

GREENE: What do we know about the victim, Tim?

NELSON: Not very much. As you said, his name is Philando Castile. He's 32. His family has identified him as a cafeteria worker here at a public school in St. Paul. He died at a hospital in Minneapolis where he was taken after the shooting a little less than an hour after the stop happened.

GREENE: And we heard the sounds of those protesters already gathering outside the governor's mansion. I mean, what has been the reaction so far overnight?

NELSON: Well, this comes in a context of some high tension here in the Twin Cities. There was a shooting by Minneapolis police of a man in November, Jamar Clark. That left a lot of hard feelings. And there were protesters literally at the scene of the shooting while they were investigating it in this suburb, Falcon Heights, until 2 o'clock this morning.

As they towed the car away and cleared the scene, the group gathered and traveled a few miles away to the governor's mansion, where you - as you said, they started a protest there and continued to block the streets in hope to wake up Governor Mark Dayton.

GREENE: OK. That's Tim Nelson from Minnesota Public Radio talking to us about the death of an African-American man in an encounter with police last night. Tim, thank you very much.

NELSON: You're welcome. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.