What we know
Philando Castile, 32, a black St. Paul schools employee, was shot and killed in Falcon Heights Wednesday night after St. Anthony police stopped his car. His girlfriend, Diamond Reynolds, streamed live a video recording of the scene from inside the car moments after the shooting. Here are some of the questions that have emerged since then:
Why was he stopped? According to Reynolds, police told them the car’s headlight was not working. She said Thursday that it was working.
Where was he stopped? On Larpenteur Avenue in Falcon Heights, approximately one block west of Snelling Avenue.
Why were St. Anthony police involved? The St. Anthony Police Department also provides public safety services for Falcon Heights and Lauderdale. In 2015, the department issued 2,300 citations in Falcon Heights.
Who were the officers involved? The Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension has identified the officer who shot Castile as Jeronimo Yanez. He and his partner, Joseph Kauser, have been placed on standard administrative leave.
Was Castile armed? Reynolds said he told the police officer that he was, and that he had a legal permit to carry. 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 Thursday whether Castile is among them. St. Anthony police say a gun was recovered at the scene of the shooting.
What is the 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, Strawser said, police departments may have policies on what to do, or it may be up to the officer’s discretion. If an officer wants to disarm the driver they may legally do so.
Who will investigate the incident? The BCA will lead the state investigation, but Gov. Mark Dayton on Thursday asked the U.S. Department of Justice to conduct its own investigation.
Are charges likely or expected against officer Yanez? It’s far too early to say, but police officers are rarely charged in fatal shootings, in part because of a U.S. Supreme Court ruling that sets a standard for bringing criminal charges in such cases. A Star Tribune analysis of police-involved deaths dating to 2000 found that at least 148 people in Minnesota have died after being shot, Tased or restrained by a police officer. To date, no officer has been charged in any of those deaths. In more than 130 decisions, a grand jury, county attorney or the U.S. attorney determined there wasn’t probable cause of a crime being committed.