Philando Castile victim of driving while black? Pulled over at least 31 times in recent years

The black man whose shooting death by a police officer was livestreamed on Facebook had been stopped dozens of times by police, Daily Mail Online can reveal.

Relatives of Philando Castile say they believe he was repeatedly targeted by police officers because he was ‘DWB’ – ‘driving while black’.

Castile’s death has caused outrage and been condemned by the governor of Minnesota, who said: ‘Would this have happened if the passengers were white?’

Now it can be disclosed that Castile, 32, has been pulled over by at least 31 times in the last 14 years since he got his driver’s license and charged with a string of misdemeanor violations.

The offenses include speeding, failure to wear a seat belt, driving after a revocation, no proof of insurance, improper display of original plate and parking violations.

In total police in Minnesota brought 31 cases against Castile, racking up 63 charges for mostly minor traffic offenses – 43 of which he was found guilty or convicted of and has paid out hundreds of dollars in fines.

School cafeteria worker Philando Castile (pictured) was shot fatally shot by a Minnesota police officer during a routine traffic stop in a St. Paul suburb on Wednesday night   Castile was shot in Falcon Heights, a mostly white community of 5,000 served primarily by the nearby St. Anthony Police Department

St. Anthony Police Officer Jeronimo Yanez (pictured) was identified as the patrolman who fatally shot Castile during a traffic stop

In 25 of the cases it was police officers from Ramsey County involved – the county within which St Anthony Police Department lies. The records do not disclose the force or forces responsible for the stops.

The scale on which law enforcement seems to have stopped Castile will draw questions over whether the police have been even-handed when dealing with him.

Castile had no criminal record whatsoever beyond the traffic offenses.

Castile’s most recent conviction came earlier this year in January after he was accused twice of leaving his vehicle abandoned on ‘public/private property without consent’.

It was alleged he had left the vehicle for more than 48 hours. He was convicted of two ‘petty misdemeanors’ on January 11 and one on January 8.

Days earlier on January 5 he was slapped with another parking charge and convicted for breaching ‘snow emergency parking restrictions’.

Every year Castile seemed to have a handful of run-ins with police over minor traffic infractions.

In July last year he was convicted for not wearing a seat belt along with his passenger and the year before, November 2014, he was pulled over and slapped with a charge for ‘improper display of original plate’.

Three months earlier he was convicted of stopping his vehicle illegally and had a charge for an expired registration dismissed.

Scene of homicide: Police forensic officers at the car where Philando Castile was shot dead by Officer Jeronimo Yanez

The litany of traffic stops stretch back to when he was age 17 and officers from Ramsey County pulled him over for an undisclosed reason.

He was later found guilty of having no proof of insurance, fined $50 and sentenced to 20 days in prison, which appears to have been suspended, and put on one year probation.

In February, 2008 Castile was convicted of being a public nuisance – a petty misdemeanor – for obstructing a public road with his vehicle. He was hit with $278 in legal fees.

And the following month he was stopped again and charged and later convicted of ‘Driving after revocation’ and not wearing a seat belt.

In July the same year he was again charged with ‘Driving after Revocation’ but a more serious charge of possessing over 1.4 grams of marijuana in a vehicle was dismissed.

Castile’s life was lost when a traffic stop went fatally wrong, and became the center of national outrage when his girlfriend Diamond Reynolds livestreamed the aftermath of Officer Jeronimo Yanez shooting the 32-year-old.

Relatives told Daily Mail Online they believed he was the victim of racial profiling.

Speaking from his home in St Paul, Minnesota, his cousin Damion Pickett, 37, said: ‘He was stopped because they think every African-American does crime but it doesn’t happen like that.

‘He was ‘DWB’ – driving while black. They think that of everybody, especially guys with dreads.

‘You cannot label one person just off a few people because every black person is not that.’

Castile was well known to Pickett because he was a cousin to his half-brother.

‘I knew his family. He was a good guy and he looked after his kid, he was a hardworking man.’

Damion’s twin sister, Angelic Pickett, told Daily Mail Online: ‘I take my hat off to his girlfriend. If she didn’t record that, what would the outcome of this be? They would have taken the cop’s word because he’s [Castile] not here.

‘The family is in my prayers. We know them well.’

Castile’s lengthy rap sheet for minor traffic violations will raise questions over whether police in Minnesota are targeting the black community to raise revenue.

There was similar concern raised after the Ferguson riots sparked by the police shooting death of Michael Brown.

Some in the black community accused police of unfairly targeting them to raise revenue for the city.

The municipality in Ferguson collected some $2.6 million a year in fines and court fees, typically from small-scale infractions like traffic violations, before the riots.

In 2013, a year before the riots, the municipal court in Ferguson — a city of just over 21,000 people — issued 32,975 arrest warrants for non-violent offenses, mostly driving violations.

The scale on which Castile was pulled over is disclosed after the governor of Minnesota launched a startling attack on ‘racism’ in the police, saying he does not believe that the 32-year-old would have been shot dead on Wednesday if he was white.

Mark Dayton said there was ‘every indication’ that police conduct in the shooting of Castile, a black man, was ‘way in excess’ of what the situation warranted.

‘Would this have happened if the driver and the passengers were white?’, asked Dayton. ‘I don’t think it would have.

Philando Castile's mother Valerie (right, with her son's girlfriend Diamond Reynolds) said no one has reached out to her in the two days since her son was shot dead by a police officer 

‘This kind of racism exists and it’s incumbent on all of us to vow that we’re gonna do all that we can to see that it doesn’t continue to happen.’

He also said he was upset to note that Castile ‘was not given first aid, nobody attended to his condition, as they were attending to the condition of the police officer who did the shooting.

‘(Reynolds) was handcuffed and taken to a police station with her four-year-old daughter… it’s just stark treatment; I find it absolutely appalling at all levels.’

Furthermore, he continued: ‘I can’t say how shocked I am and how deeply, deeply offended that this would occur in Minnesota to somebody who got pulled over for a tail light being out of order.’

Dayton, who has called on a federal investigation to be launched into the incident, and promised that the case would be pursued ‘to its conclusion’. The Justice Department has said it is ‘prepared, as necessary’ to conduct such an investigation.

The police department has made no public statement on the allegations of racism. The officer who killed Castile has been placed on leave.

Reynolds herself was taken into custody shortly after the incident and was released only at 5am on Thursday morning after hundreds of protesters had gathered outside Mr Dayton’s mansion in St. Paul.

Hours after she was released from jail, she launched into a 20-minute speech calling on the community to come together as she was flanked by a crowd of supporters brandishing Black Lives Matter placards.

She insisted that police had stopped them for a busted tail light, which she claims wasn’t even busted, and that Castile told the officer he had a firearm on him and a license, before the cop began shooting ‘for no reason’.

She told the growing crowd that her boyfriend ‘didn’t have any last words. His eyes rolled in the back of his head.’

‘The police did this to us. The police killed him in front of my daughter. The police did this to me. They took an innocent man away from us.’


Records: Just part of the official records of Philando Divall, showing the scale of police traffic stops

Source: The DailyMail

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