Criminal Justice

Black man shot by officer in Minnesota had been pulled over 52 times by police

Corrected: A cafeteria supervisor at St. Paul Public Schools had been pulled over by police at least 52 times in the 14 years before he was shot and killed by a police officer during a traffic stop in Minnesota last week.

Castile was cited for 86 violations during those stops, half of which were dismissed, the Associated Press reports. The citations were for alleged infractions such as speeding, driving without a muffler, not wearing a seat belt, driving after his license was revoked, and driving with no proof of insurance. There is no record of more serious crimes, according to the story.

“Was Castile an especially bad driver or just unlucky?” the AP story asks. “Or was he targeted by officers who single out black motorists like him for such stops, as several of his family members have alleged?”

The AP story says the answer may never be known, but it cites a 2003 racial profiling study in Minnesota that found participating police departments stopped minority drivers and searched them at greater rates than whites. Police were less likely to find contraband on blacks than on whites in the searches.

Castile’s girlfriend, Diamond Reynolds, said in a video live-streamed immediately after the shooting that officers said they pulled Castile over for a broken taillight. The lawyer for the officer who shot Castile said the taillight was part of the reason for the traffic stop; the officer also believed that Castile looked like a suspect from a recent armed robbery, the Minneapolis Star Tribune reports. Castile had long dreadlocks, as did the two armed robbery suspects. The description also included the clothing worn by the suspects.

The lawyer, Thomas Kelly, said the officer, Jeronimo Yanez, shot Castile because Castile had a gun. Castile’s girlfriend said Castile had informed the officer he had a gun because he was licensed to carry it. On the video, the officer can be heard saying, “I told him not to reach for it. I told him to get his hand out.”


Updated at 3:15 p.m. to remove the incorrect reference to a white officer in the headline of the story.

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