Philando Castile, the 32-year-old man shot by a police officer in Falcon Heights, Minnesota after a minor traffic stop, had no felony convictions, but being stopped by the police for small traffic hassles was a regular occurrence for him.
New audio shows that he may have been stopped the night he died because police thought he looked like an armed robbery suspect due to the width of his nose.
Minnesota police stopped him for driving without a muffler. For not having an insurance card. For driving after revocation of his driver’s license, and so on. They accused him of minor traffic issues more than 50 times, one for almost every year of his life.
Minnesota television station KARE11 has obtained what may be police dispatch audio/scanner traffic of the initial stop and shooting aftermath. Reynolds said they were stopped for a broken taillight but didn’t have one. The possible dispatch audio has an officer saying, “I’m going to stop a car. I’m going to check IDs. I have reason to pull it over.” Listen here.
“The two occupants just look like people that were involved in a robbery,” the man said to be an officer adds. “The driver looks more like one of our suspects, just ‘cause of the wide set nose.” However, Castile had only a minor criminal history in Minnesota, almost entirely for traffic, and with nothing at all approaching the seriousness of armed robbery.
The TV station said it received the audio from a viewer and hasn’t been able to verify it with police, although the license plate mentioned matches Castile’s. However, the station now says the officer’s attorney, Tom Kelly, has confirmed details in it, saying, “They had a reasonable suspicion he may match the description of the suspect in the earlier robbery.” Kelly also told the station that there was a brake light out on the car, that Castile himself wasn’t a robbery suspect, and that a recent gas station robbery was the one in question.
Heavy has reached out to a police spokesperson, the Bureau of Criminal Apprehension, and the officer’s attorney for verification. BCA, which is leading the investigation into Castile’s death, said: “Regarding the audio you referenced… I don’t have information to provide to you about it. The BCA did not release it.” Asked for the dispatch audio, BCA’s spokesperson, Jill Oliveira said: “Data from an ongoing investigation does not become public under Minnesota law until the investigation concludes.”
Castile’s uncle, Clarence, told KARE 11 that the audio shows Castile was racially profiled. He said: “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.” KARE 11 notes in its report that there was a recent gas station robbery in the area on July 2, although it’s unclear which robbery the audio is referring to. You can see photos of the gas station armed robbery suspects here.
The officer’s lawyer told the Association Press that he was reacting to Castile’s gun, not his race, USA Today said; police said previously that Castile had a gun. Castile’s girlfriend, Lavish Reynolds, said they were stopped for a broken taillight they didn’t have and that Castile told the officer he was armed and had a gun permit. The Minneapolis Star Tribune reports that Castile did have a valid gun permit from Hennepin County (some on the Internet have used a Ramsey County Sheriff’s Department Tweet on Castile not applying for a permit through that county as evidence he didn’t have one; the Star Tribune, however, cites a source, in reporting that he obtained one through another county, while living in Robbinsdale, MN).
Reynolds (who sometimes goes by the name “Diamond”), streamed the aftermath of Castile’s shooting on Facebook Live. sparking protests throughout the nation (the Dallas police shooter may have been motivated in part by Castile’s death). You can watch the video here (warning: it’s very graphic):
Castile is seen in the Facebook Live video, which has been shared hundreds of thousands of times, bleeding profusely as Reynolds narrates what’s occurring and the shaken and emotional officer points a gun through the window. She says they were stopped for a broken taillight that wasn’t really broken, according to CNN. She says in the video that Castile, 32, a school cafeteria worker, was shot for “no reason.”
St. Anthony Village police said in a press statement sent to Heavy that the shooting originated in a traffic stop and that a gun was recovered, but have released few other details. Reynolds says in the video that Castile had a concealed carry permit and informed the officer he had a firearm. She says they were stopped for a broken taillight but that the taillight wasn’t actually broken.
Racial profiling of African-Americans, especially in traffic stops, has been a national concern for years. On Thursday, Minnesota Governor Mark Dayton questioned whether Castile would have been killed if he was white, The Washington Post reported. Castile was African-American. Dayton is asking for a federal investigation. The governor said:
Would this have happened if the passengers were white? I don’t think it would have. All of us in Minnesota are forced to confront that this kind of racism exists.
President Barack Obama said Thursday that Castile’s shooting and that of Alton Sterling in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, were “symptomatic of a broader set of racial disparities that exist in our criminal justice system,” The New York Times said.
The president said that blacks are more likely to be arrested and shot by police, and said, “When incidents like this occur, there’s a big chunk of our fellow citizenry that feels as if, because of the color of their skin, they are not being treated the same,” he said. “And that hurts. That should trouble all of us,” according to The Times.
In Minnesota, racial profiling has been an issue. Sixty-five police departments participated in an extensive study of the issue at the behest of the Legislature.
So what was the arrest record, traffic history, criminal history and rap sheet of Philando Castile? There’s no question his traffic record was extensive in the overall number of cases – being stopped by the police for minor traffic issues was a regular thing for Castile. All of the cases were universally minor.
Here’s what you need to know:
Castile Had At Least 55 Minnesota Traffic Violations On His Record
Reynolds gave an emotional press conference held Thursday in which she said the traffic stop that led to his death was over a “broken taillight, which wasn’t broken,” according to CNN. She described Castile as “the quietest, most laid-back person you would ever meet. He was loving. … Nothing within his body language said intimidation. Nothing within his body said ‘shoot me.’ Nothing within his body language said ‘kill me, I want to be dead.’ He did not do nothing but what the police officer asked of us, which was to put your hands in the air and get your license and registration.” She said they were returning from the grocery store when stopped.
In the video, Reynolds says that Castile is “licensed to carry” and was “trying to get out his ID” and “he let the officer know he had a firearm, and he was reaching for his wallet, and the officer just shot him. … He just shot his arm off.”
A records check in Minnesota court system databases shows Castile had at least 55 traffic offenses in Minnesota, for things like driving without a muffler, operating after revocation, and not having a proper insurance card. NBC News had given the number as 31, but some of the offenses were multiple charges in the same incident.
In Ramsey County, where Castile lived, Castile had the following traffic offenses on his record, according to a search of Minnesota criminal and petty court records:
1. Violate instr permit – dismissed
2. No proof of insurance – guilty
3. Basic speed – guilty
4. Driving after suspension – dismissed
5. No proof of insurance – guilty
6. No seat belt use – dismissed
7. No proof of insurance – guilty
8. Impede traffic – dismissed
9. No Minnesota driver’s license – amended charge guilty
10. Driving after suspension of driver’s license – Convicted
11. No proof of insurance – dismissed
12. No proof of insurance – convicted
13. Driving after revocation – Dismissed
15. Driving after suspension – Dismissed
16. No proof of insurance – guilty
17. Speeding – dismissed
18. Driver’s license – failure to obtain new – dismissed
19. Muffler required – dismissed
20. Driving after revocation – guilty
21. Operation of motor vehicle after loss of license prohibited – dismissed
22. Dangerous public road/water – convicted
23. Driving after revocation – convicted
24. No proof of insurance – dismissed
25. Driving after revocation – convicted
26. Seat belt violation – dismissed
27. Driving after revocation – convicted
28. Proof on insurance – Dismissed
29. Driving after revocation – convicted
30. Driving after revocation – convicted
31. Driving after revocation – convicted
32. Seat belt required – convicted
33. Seat belt required – convicted
34. Driving after revocation – convicted
35. Driving after revocation – convicted
36. Driving after revocation – convicted
37. Driving after revocation – convicted
38. Driving after revocation – convicted
39. Driving after revocation – convicted
40. Stop/stand/park vehicle at any place where official signs prohibit stopping – convicted
41. Expired registration – dismissed
42. Snow emergency parking restrictions – convicted
43. Stop/stand/park vehicle on any street/ally, at the same location, for more than 48 consecutive hours – convicted
44. Abandon motor vehicle on any public/private property without consent – convicted
45. Stop/stand/park vehicle on any street/ally, at the same location, for more than 48 consecutive hours – convicted
In Dakota County, he also had some traffic offenses:
46. Driving after suspension – guilty
In Hennepin County, Castile had these violations:
47. Driving after revocation – convicted
48. Display altered/fictitious insurance card – dismissed
49. Driving after revocation – convicted
50. Seat belt required – dismissed
51. Uninsured vehicle – convicted
52. Driving after revocation – dismissed
53. Seat belt required – dismissed
54. Impromper display original plate – convicted
55. Seat belt required – convicted
Castile Was Accused Of Two Minor Drug Offenses, Both Dismissed
There were two drug incidents listed on Castile’s record, but both were listed as dismissed by the court system:
1. Possess marijuana in motor vehicle – dismissed
2. Drugs – possess over 1.4 grams of marijuana in motor vehicle – dismissed
Castile Did Not Have a Violent Criminal Record
Castile, a school cafeteria worker beloved by the school community, “had no felony or violent criminal record,” confirmed NBC News. A search of Minnesota’s criminal record databases also shows this.
He did have one conviction for “public nuisance – interfere/obstruct/render.”
Minnesota statutes say that offense is defined as anyone who “interferes with, obstructs, or renders dangerous for passage, any public highway or right-of-way, or waters used by the public.”
A check of court records in adjacent Wisconsin showed no records for Philando Castile.
Castile’s Family Said He Followed the Law & Avoided Crime
Philando’s mother, Valerie Castile told the Minneapolis Star-Tribune “They killed my son. They took a good man, a hard-working man; he worked since he was 18 years old.” One of Philando Castile’s own Facebook posts says, “Hard work pays off !!!!!!!”
“He lived by the law, and he died by the law,” Valerie Castile told a WCCO reporter.
Philando’s cousin, Antonio Johnson, 31, told the Star-Tribunee that Philando was a straight-A honors student at St. Paul Central High School, who was “very nonconfrontational.”
In the Facebook Live video, Castile’s girlfriend, Lavish “Diamond” Reynolds, says that he works for the St. Paul school system, is not a gang member, and doesn’t have a criminal record.
Clarence Castile, Philando’s uncle, told the New York Daily News that his nephew was a “hardworking family man.”