On Thursday morning, tempers flared as video of Philando Castile went viral. According to his girlfriend, Diamond “Lavish” Reynolds, he was stopped for “a broken tail-light” and then the police officer shot him when he reached for his identification.
Many were outraged because Castile, according to family members, was a law-abiding citizen who was legally in possession of a firearm – and his girlfriend said in the video that he had informed the police officers that he had a legal permit at the time of the stop.
But the information that has surfaced in the last few days suggests that isn’t the whole story.
Local NBC affiliate KARE says that a viewer sent them audio from a police scanner at the time and location of the fatal traffic stop:
The audio, which has yet to be independently confirmed, suggests that Castile was not stopped for a broken tail-light. Police are heard discussing Castile’s resemblance to the suspect in an armed robbery that occurred in the same area a few days earlier.
Officer: 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 who have been involved in a robbery. The driver looked more like one of our suspects, just ‘cause of the wide-set nose.
The audio also confirmed that police officers on the scene did call for medical attention.
The license plate number given in the video (not revealed on the air) reportedly matched the plates on Castile’s car.
Local news stations had released surveillance photos from the robbery on Tuesday afternoon:
The Associated Press also confirmed that Castile’s history with the police was quite a bit longer than the “driving without insurance” citations originally reported.
Since 2002, Castile has been stopped by police over 50 times – nearly once every 4 months – for a number of violations. More than half were never pursued, but he still racked up fines totaling $6,588.
Several recent studies – none of which included the St. Anthony Police Department – have indicated that minorities are pulled over at a greater frequency than whites.
But Jeronimo Yanez, the officer who shot Castile, says that race was not a factor; he opened fire in response to “the presence of the gun and the display of that gun inside the vehicle.”