Dashcam footage shows Philando Castile’s fatal encounter with police
WARNING: Video contains graphic footage that may be disturbing to viewers.
Newly released dashcam footage shows what happened in the moments before Officer Jeronimo Yanez fatally shot Philando Castile during a traffic stop last summer.
The Minnesota Department of Public Safety released the 10-minute video, along with audio of the radio communications between Yanez and other law enforcement, to public Tuesday. Both recordings were played during the trial for Yanez, who faced one count of second-degree manslaughter and two counts of reckless discharge of a firearm in connection with Castile’s death.
After days of deliberations last week, a jury found Yanez not guilty on all counts related to the July 6, 2016 shooting. Here’s a quick rundown of what’s shown — and not shown — in the video.
- Shortly after Yanez approaches the driver’s side of Castile’s vehicle, the officer says there’s a broken taillight. Yanez is then heard asking for insurance and identification.
- Castile hands something to Yanez; prosecutors say it was his insurance. Castile then calmly says, “Sir, I have to tell you, I do have a firearm on me.” At this, Yanez is seen laying his right hand on the gun in his holster.
- The scene escalates very quickly from here. In a matter of seconds, there’s a quick succession of moments: Yanez says, “Don’t reach for it then”; Castile says, “I’m not pulling it out”; Yanez then says, “Don’t pull it out!” twice before removing his weapon from his holster and firing seven shots into the car. (Police investigators later said that five of those shots struck Castile). The video does not give a complete picture of what happened in the car during the encounter.
- Meanwhile Officer Joseph Kauser can be seen on the other side of the car. He does not engage with the passengers and never draws his weapon during the fatal encounter. Kauser testified that he didn’t think the situation was threatening until Yanez opened fire, nor did he ever saw a gun in the car. However, Kauser said in court that he believed Yanez “followed protocol,” Pioneer Press reported.
- Diamond Reynolds, a woman thought to be Castile’s girlfriend, Diamond Reynolds, is heard saying “you just killed my boyfriend!” Reynolds, shortly after the shooting occurred, decided to live stream the fallout from the shooting to Facebook. You can hear her recapping her version of the events, presumably for an audience online. Reynolds also testified in court that Castile had followed Yanez’s orders.
- Yanez, reacting to the shooting, continues to yell with expletives. He keeps his gun pointed toward the car until more officers arrive at the scene.
Yanez shoots 7 secs after Castile informs him he's armed. Both Castile/Reynolds assure him no one reaching for gun, then officer opens fire
— Wesley Lowery (@WesleyLowery) June 20, 2017
In the radio clip also released today, Yanez is heard saying he’s going to stop a car because two people inside looked like suspects in a robbery.
“The driver looks more like one of our suspects, just ’cause of the wide-set nose,” Yanez said.
The jury’s acquittal of Yanez — who told jurors he acted in self-defense when he opened fire on Castile — prompted thousands to protest last week in St. Paul, Minnesota.
Castile’s mother, Valerie, told reporters after the verdict’s announcement that “my son was murdered, and I will continue to say murdered, because where in this planet do you tell the truth, and you be honest, and you still be murdered by the police of Minnesota, while you have your seat belt on and you’re in the company with a woman and a child? My son would never jeopardize anyone else’s life.”
Tim Nelson of Minnesota Public Radio told the NewsHour that some factors, including the squad car video, left some doubt in the jury’s minds.
“What we saw was, this happened very quickly. And you could feel the emotion, you could feel the tension in this situation as it happened,” Nelson said. “And it’s confounding. You can’t see what was actually going on in the car. And I think that that left some doubt there,” he added.