Philando Castile, the man shot and killed by a St. Anthony police officer during a Wednesday evening traffic stop, was armed with a handgun and told the officer that he had a permit to carry, according to his girlfriend Diamond Reynolds.
The names of Minnesota’s 220,000 residents who hold permits to carry a firearm are not public information under state law, and the Department of Public Safety refused to confirm whether Castile is among them. His shooting, which occurred after Reynolds said Castile was reaching for his wallet, has raised questions about protocol for armed drivers during traffic stops.
Under Minnesota law, you do not have to disclose that you are carrying a firearm during a traffic stop unless you are asked, said Bryan Strawser, executive director of the Minnesota Gun Owners Caucus. However, if asked, carriers must answer truthfully and provide their permit to carry, along with identification.
From there, he said, police departments may have policies on what to do, or it may be up to the officer’s discretion. If officers want to disarm the driver, they may legally do so.
The caucus does not make recommendations on what to do if stopped when legally armed. It’s a personal decision, but “you definitely want to move slowly and follow any direction given by a police officer,” he said.
Strawser said the caucus has not yet taken a stance about what happened since the shooting happened before Reynolds began recording, but they support a transparent and independent investigation into what happened.
“One outcome of this tragedy should be that departments should take a look at their policies with armed citizens who have a legal right to carry and do so in accordance with the law,” he said.