Moments after St. Anthony police officer Jeronimo Yanez fired seven times at Philando Castile, Diamond Reynolds’ 4-year-old daughter repeatedly pleaded with her to be quiet and cooperative so she wouldn’t also be shot.
“Mom, please stop cussing and screaming ’cause I don’t want you to get shooted,” the girl told her handcuffed mother in the back of a squad car. Yanez fatally shot Castile during a traffic stop with both Reynolds and her daughter in the car.
“OK, give me a kiss,” Reynolds responded. “My phone just died, that’s all.”
“I can keep you safe,” the girl responded.
“It’s OK. I got it, OK?” Reynolds whispered before the child began to cry.
“I can’t believe they just did that,” Reynolds said.
The video from officer Joseph Kauser’s squad car is the latest exhibit from a stockpile of evidence released by the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension after Yanez was found not guilty of manslaughter Friday. The evidence includes dramatic dashcam footage showing how a routine traffic stop turned deadly in seconds.
Castile told Yanez during the stop that he had a firearm in the car. Reynolds told authorities that her boyfriend was reaching for his wallet in the moments before the shooting, but Yanez testified that he believed he saw Castile grabbing for his gun.
After 29 hours of deliberation, a Ramsey County jury acquitted Yanez, sparking days of protests and marches by angered residents and community activists. Law enforcement advocates, meanwhile, said the videos don’t tell the whole story. They also emphasized that the jury’s threshold to convict Yanez was high.
Larry Rogers, a civil rights attorney representing Reynolds, said Wednesday that the world needs to see the video of his client and her young daughter in the back seat of the squad car. As traumatic as the experience and video are, he said, Reynolds wants the public to know what happened the day Yanez killed Castile.
“Diamond has always wanted the world to see what happened to Philando, her and [her daughter],” said Rogers, a Chicago-based attorney. “And while the jury exonerated officer Yanez, I think the public sentiment is important. It’s important for the public to see exactly what he did to Philando. It’s important for the public to see the trauma he caused Diamond and her daughter.”
Gov. Mark Dayton on Wednesday met with black leaders for about 90 minutes and then appeared with the group for a brief, somber news conference outside his cabinet room.
“It was a profound, very difficult conversation,” said Dayton, whose key early backers included law enforcement unions.
Dayton called the video of the Castile killing “very painful. It was very shocking.”
“Seeing the little girl and her mother in the back of the squad car, hearing a child’s narrative of what occurred, it was really awful,” he said.
Dayton promised to meet with community leaders again later this week or next to turn the raw feelings they expressed to him into action.
“We need to find better ways to bring people together in Minnesota. And recognize each of our humanity,” he said.
Andy Skoogman, executive director of the Minnesota Chiefs of Police Association, said that the video of Castile’s fatal shooting is “understandably very hard to watch” but that it and others like it don’t tell the whole story.
“It is important for us to understand that the jury was required to assess the video through the filter of the law and legal precedent, but it’s incredibly difficult to see a video in which a man dies and then apply legal standards,” he said. He added that the association asked for and received money from the Legislature for police training.
“We hope the additional training dollars will not only improve policing outcomes but also improve community trust and officer safety,” he said.
‘My boyfriend’s dead’
More videos from the case file include the BCA’s interview with Reynolds taken in the hours after the shooting.
“He let off more rounds than he let out words,” a composed Reynolds, wrapped in a blanket, said of Yanez when recounting how quickly the shooting happened.
She explained that she and Castile were planning to make dinner that night and prepare for work the following day. She told the investigator why she immediately broadcast the shooting’s aftermath on Facebook Live in a video seen by millions.
“I want America to see how police react in situations without giving people the option to decipher or if you’re pulling me over for a taillight, why would you be nervous? Why would you be jittery? Why would you be antsy?” Reynolds said during questioning with special agents Chris Olson and Mike Phill.
She emphasized how Castile, her longtime boyfriend, had a permit to carry and no criminal record. She confirmed that there was marijuana in the car and that, “Yes, we are smokers. That’s it.”
When the agent expressed concern for her daughter, Reynolds said, “There’s no way my daughter’s gonna be able to move forward from this. Phil was like her father.”
Reynolds told the agents about Castile’s work at J.J. Hill Montessori School in St. Paul and that he obtained a permit to carry a handgun because they lived in a rough neighborhood and he wanted to protect his family. Sometimes they went to the shooting range together.
Then Olson’s phone dinged. It was a text message.
“What did they say? I know you just got the text,” Reynolds said.
Olson told Reynolds that Castile had died. She began to sob.
She asked for her phone, and Phill told her they needed to keep it to obtain her video. They didn’t need the phone, she said, because the video was already on Facebook.
“And once it gets shared,” she said, “you know how that goes.”
Olson ended the interview, but the video continued. He urged her to find a program for kids who have endured trauma. Face buried in her hands, Reynolds told him that she and Castile planned to marry, to have kids. Olson asked how to spell the name of Castile’s sister.
“I don’t know, but my boyfriend’s dead,” she said.
Rogers, Reynolds’ attorney, said he has spoken with his client since the BCA released the videos and documents. She is not prepared to address the public, he said.
“She’s still devastated by the jury verdict,” Rogers said. “And I think she will have some things to say soon.”
‘I wish this town was safer’
In the squad car video, Reynolds shifted in her seat as she said to herself that she needed to get out of her handcuffs.
“No, please, no. I don’t want you to get shooted!” her daughter shouted.
“They’re not gonna shoot me, OK?” Reynolds said. “I’m already in handcuffs.”
“Don’t take them off,” the girl pleaded. “I wish this town was safer.”
“That’s true.” Reynolds said.
“I don’t want it to be like this anymore,” she said.
“Tell that to the police, OK?” Reynolds said. “When they come and get me, tell them you wish that they didn’t have to kill people.”
Staff writer J. Patrick Coolican contributed to this report.
Chao Xiong • 612-270-4708
Brandon Stahl • 612-673-4626