KARE 11, a TV station in Minneapolis, has obtained new audio it says may be dispatch audio from the Philando Castile shooting, and it shows the officer may have stopped Castile because he believed Castile resembled an armed robbery suspect due to the width of his nose. Castile’s uncle, Clarence, tells KARE 11 the audio means Castile was racially profiled. (You can also listen to it here.)
KARE says it’s unclear which robbery the audio is referring to for sure, but noted that St. Anthony police sent out a press release a few days before the Castile shooting saying “St. Anthony police were investigating a gas station robbery that occurred in nearby Lauderdale on July 2.” However, the officer’s attorney, Tom Kelly, has now confirmed details in the audio to KARE 11, saying, “They had a reasonable suspicion he may match the description of the suspect in the earlier robbery.” He added that Castile himself was not a robbery suspect, that a brake light was out on the car, and said the gas station robbery was the one in question, the TV station said.
Castile was shot by a St. Anthony Village police officer. Castile, a beloved school cafeteria worker, had only a minor criminal history in Minnesota, almost entirely traffic, and nothing even close to a crime as serious as armed robbery. His girlfriend, Lavish Reynolds, streamed the aftermath of the shooting using Facebook Live, and the shooting sparked protests across the country. The Dallas police shooter may have been partly motivated by Castile’s death.
So what did the armed robbery suspects look like in the July 2 gas station robbery? The press release was sent out through the Minnesota Crime Alert Network; it says two men with dreadlocks robbed a gas station with handguns. See it here. Many local news sites broadcast the photos at the time because police were trying to find the robbers. They were released by St. Anthony police through the Minnesota Crime Alert Network.
Here is the second armed robbery suspect photo:
You can see the photos here with additional details in the press release.
You can see also see the photos of the armed robbery suspects here on TV news site WCCO.
Castile posted many undated photos of himself on his Facebook page. You can see many photos of Castile in this photo gallery.
KARE said in its report that the station has not been able to verify the possible scanner audio with police, which it received from a viewer, receiving no response to queries about its authenticity; Heavy has also reached out to the police spokesperson asking to verify it and received no response. Heavy has also contacted the Bureau of Criminal Apprehension, asking for verification. BCA’s spokeswoman, Jill Oliveira, responded, “Regarding the audio you referenced… I don’t have information to provide to you about it. The BCA did not release it.” The BCA is the agency investigating the Castile shooting; Oliveira said any “data from an ongoing investigation does not become public under Minnesota law until the investigation concludes.”
In the audio, the man, purportedly the officer, says “I’m going to stop a car,” the man says on the recording. “I’m going to check IDs. I have reason to pull it over.”
“The two occupants just look like people that were involved in a robbery,” the man continues. “The driver looks more like one of our suspects, just ‘cause of the wide set nose.”
Clarence Castile, Castile’s uncle, told KARE 11: “I just thought it was kind of insane to pull somebody over saying they matched a robbery suspect by having flared nostrils. It is kind of hard to see flared nostrils from a car.”
The news station also said “Diamond Reynolds said she and her deceased boyfriend did not match the descriptions on the audio clip.”
Details of the the Lauderdale Armed Robbery
WCCO reported the robbery occurred on Saturday, July 2. Castile was killed on Wednesday, July 6. The WCCO report on the Lauderdale robbery says it occurred at 7:36 p.m. at a Super USA, 2424 Larpenteur Avenue. (Castile was shot at the intersection of Larpenteur Avenue and Fry, said a police statement.) In the audio aired by the TV station, the man purported to be the officer reports that shots were fired at Larpenteur and Fry.
“Two male suspects armed with handguns took cash from the register and cartons of Newport cigarettes,” said the WCCO report.
LillieNews.com, a local site in Minnesota, also ran the photos when police released them to seek the public’s help in finding the armed robbers. The St. Anthony police press release provided the following description of the robbers:
“The employee described the suspects as follows: Suspect #1 was a black male, longer than shoulder length dreadlocks hair, wearing blue jeans, a green plaid long sleeved shirt, a baseball hat with marijuana leave emblems on it, dark colored shoes with white in them, and wearing glasses. Suspect may have had a mustache.”
“Suspect #2 was a black male, tan pants, tan shoes with white soles, a green long sleeved jacket, a green baseball hat, and had shoulder length dreadlocks hair. Some of the dreadlocks had been pulled into a bun and were pulled thru the snap on the back of the baseball hat. He was also wearing glasses, had a small mustache and some facial hair on his chin.”
LillieNews quoted the St. Anthony interim police chief as saying that St. Anthony police “set up a perimeter around the store” and searched the area with help from Roseville and St. Paul police.
The news site said “K9s tracked the suspects to a nearby apartment parking lot where the trail ended. He said it’s believed the men left the area in a vehicle from the parking lot.”
KARE 11 also ran the suspect photos in an earlier report.
The officer’s lawyer said that the officer was reacting to Castile’s gun, not race, said USA Today. The lawyer for officer Jeronimo Yanez told The Associated Press that Yanez was reacting to “the presence of that gun and the display of that gun” when he shot Castile, according to USA Today.
The Minneapolis Star Tribune has verified through a source that Castile had a gun permit at the time of the shooting and Castile’s girlfriend, Lavish Reynolds, says he told the officer he was armed. Police have released few details on the shooting, other than to say it originated in a traffic stop and they recovered a gun.
Here is the original Facebook Live video recorded by Reynolds:
Racial profiling by police has been a concern in Minnesota; the Legislature commissioned an extensive study on racial profiling that 65 police departments participated in.