KARE11 TV in Minnesota has published what may be police dispatch audio showing that Philando Castile was stopped because the police officer who shot him thought he looked like an armed robbery suspect because of “the wide set nose.”
You can listen to the audio above or here. KARE cautions that the TV station received the audio from a viewer and has not been able to verify the dispatch audio with the St. Anthony Village Police Department. However, the station has now reported that Tom Kelly, the lawyer representing St. Anthony Police Officer Jeronimo Yanez, has confirmed details included in the audio.
The audio aired by the TV station starts with a male voice, purported to be the officer, saying:
“I’m going to stop a car. 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 in the audio adds. “The driver looks more like one of our suspects, just ‘cause of the wide set nose.”
Clarence Castile, Castile’s uncle, told KARE 11 the audio shows the stop was “racial profiling.” He told the TV station: “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.”
Heavy also reached out to a police spokesperson in an attempt to verify the audio (with no response) as well as the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension, which is investigating the Castile shooting. Jill Oliveira, BCA spokeswoman, told Heavy, when asked if the audio was authentic: “Regarding the audio you referenced… I don’t have information to provide to you about it. The BCA did not release it.” Asked for a copy of the dispatch audio in the case, she wrote, “Data from an ongoing investigation does not become public under Minnesota law until the investigation concludes.”
Kelly told KARE 11 that Castile wasn’t a robbery suspect but that: “They had a reasonable suspicion he may match the description of the suspect in the earlier robbery.”
Previously, Castile’s girlfriend, Lavish Reynolds, had said the couple’s car was stopped because of a broken taillight; she said the taillight wasn’t really broken. Minnesota Governor Mark Dayton repeated the taillight claim when he said, “No one should be shot and killed in Minnesota…for a taillight” and said he thought Castile’s race was a factor in his death.
After Castile was shot by a police officer (identified as Jeronimo Yanez), Reynolds streamed the immediate aftermath of the shooting on Facebook Live.
Hundreds of thousands of viewers have watched the disturbing video, which shows Castile bleeding in the front seat as the officer points a gun through the window, and Reynolds narrates. Castile died a short time later; his death, and that of Alton Sterling in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, sparked protests around the country and outside the governor’s mansion in Minnesota and may have motivated the Dallas police shooter. Reynolds told KARE 11 she and Castile did not match the description of the robbery suspects in the audio.
KARE 11 says there was a Lauderdale gas station robbery in the area on July 2. The press release from that robbery, which Heavy obtained through the Minnesota Crime Alert Network, describes the suspects as two men with dreadlocks and says they robbed a gas station with handguns. Kelly confirmed to KARE 11 that this was the robbery in question. See PHOTOS of the gas station armed robbery suspects here.
Kelly, the attorney for Officer Yanez told the Associated Press that Yanez, who is Latino, was reacting to the gun Castile had, not his race, USA Today said. Kelly, a Minneapolis attorney, said the officer was reacting to “the presence of that gun and the display of that gun,” according to USA Today, when he shot Castile. He also told KARE 11 that a brake light was out on the car and that “direct commands” were given.
A previous police statement said Castile had a gun; on the Facebook Live video, his girlfriend, Lavish Reynolds, says he told the officer he was armed and that Castile had a permit to carry a gun. The Minneapolis Star Tribune says it has verified that Castile did have a permit, through a source.
KARE 11 says it was able to match the license plate mentioned in the audio to Castile’s car.
The audio also appears to possibly capture the first traffic report of the shooting:
The man purported to be the officer says: “Shots fired Larpenteur and Fry.” (Note: That’s the same address for the shooting given by police in a statement.)
Dispatcher: “Copy you just heard it? … You just heard the shots fired?”
Officer: (screaming) “Code 3! Shots fired.”
Dispatcher: “Copy shots fired Larpenteur and Fry. Do you need medics?”
Officer: “Code 3!”
Dispatcher: “Copy. Medics — code 3 to Larpenteur and Fry.”
Officer: “One adult female taken into custody. Driver at gunpoint.”
Castile, a school cafeteria worker beloved in the school community, had only a minor criminal record with almost entirely traffic matters and nothing remotely as serious as armed robbery. He had been stopped many times by officers in the past, almost entirely for traffic violations. Racial profiling by police has been an issue of concern in Minnesota, even prompting the Legislature to undertake an extensive study that 65 police departments participated in.
Here is the original Facebook Live video recorded by Reynolds:
As for the gun permit, the Ramsey County Sheriff’s Department Tweeted that Castile did not apply for a permit to carry a gun in Ramsey County but cautioned he might have received one in another county. Minneapolis/St. Paul is in Ramsey County. However, the Minneapolis Star Tribune reported that “Philando Castile had a valid permit to carry a gun when he was shot and killed by a St. Anthony police officer, a source confirmed to the Star Tribune Friday.” The newspaper said the permit was issued to Castile when he lived in Robbinsdale, MN, which is in Hennepin County.
Gun permit applications are private in Minnesota: