MINNEAPOLIS — Standing in her living room, Allysza Castile lists off the names of black men who have been killed by police. And then she adds another, her brother’s: Philando Castile.
“I’m scared of the police,” she said. On a table next to the front door, she keeps a black 9-millimeter handgun for protection. “They’re slaying us like animals.”
A friend called her the night before. Castile’s girlfriend had broadcast video from her phone onto Facebook, streaming the aftermath of the shooting. The police officer had pulled them over for a broken taillight, she said, and then shot Castile as he reached for his identification.
Allysza and her mother, Valerie, rushed to the scene in nearby Falcon Heights. They said they learned later that Castile was declared dead at the Hennepin County Medical Center at 9:37 p.m.
Valerie said that no one from the family has seen his body. No one from the police department, the local, state or federal government has contacted them, she said.
“The man was executed in that car,” Valerie Castile said. “People need to be held accountable for what they do. Just because you have a badge doesn’t mean you won’t be held accountable.”
She said her son was born in 1983 in St. Louis and that the family moved to the Twin Cities a few years later, living in the suburbs to get away from the inner city.
“I wanted to to give my kids opportunity,” Valerie Castile said. “I did everything as a parent to to make sure they were productive citizens and law-abiding citizens.”
Philando Castile died just days before his 33rd birthday, which was coming up on July 16. Known as Phil, he began working at age 13, she said, repairing bicycles for other kids in the neighborhood and later helping to fix broken lawn mowers. He had a job at a Blockbuster video store and then at Target before going to work for the St. Paul public school system in 2002.
“He loved kids even though he didn’t have any of his own,” Valerie Castile said, noting that her son always helped out the children in need in the lunch line. “He’d give them an extra scoop of this and an extra scoop of that.”
She said that he was so dedicated to his job that when his car broke down he paid $50 to take a taxi to work so he could make it in on time.
When friends called after his death, they were in shock.
“Not him, not him,” his mother said. “That was never supposed to be my son. He just didn’t live that type of life.”
Valerie Castile said her son did not use drugs and was not involved with gangs. He owned a firearm to protect the family home, she said.
“He was exercising his right to bear arms,” Valerie said. She believes that after her son was pulled over Wednesday evening, he was reaching for a permit to show the officer that he was carrying his gun legally when the officer shot him. He was shot five times, his mother said.
She said she’d taught her son growing up to always comply with a police officer’s orders; she says he was killed while trying to do so.
“The real terrorists in the United States are here and they are called the police,” Valerie said. “I never thought in a million years my son would be killed by the people supposed to protect and serve.”
She said that she believed the police officer profiled her son because he was black and had his hair in dreadlocks. The mother held a family photo in her hands, a happy moment when she, her son, and her daughter went out for dinner at a Benihana on Mother’s Day. Her son is smiling, wearing rimmed eyeglasses and a crisp blue polo shirt.
She said it’s important that her son’s death not be in vain.
“Once these officers are held accountable for killing black men, maybe it will stop,” Valerie said.
His sister has not slept since the shooting. As she talked about him, she broke down in tears.
“I’m on edge,” she said. “I’m on edge.”