"They took a very good person," Valerie Castile said of the police-involved shooting of her son, Philando

By Char Adams
Updated July 07, 2016 10:00 AM
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“The mother of a Minnesota man killed by a police officer during a traffic stop on Wednesday is speaking out about the death of her son who, she called, “a very good person.”

During a Thursday CNN appearance, Valerie, the mother of 32-year-old Philando Castile said she is “outraged” over her son’s death, and has not been able to watch the disturbing Facebook Live video chronicling the aftermath of the shooting.

“I want to remember him the way I last saw him leaving my home earlier that evening,” she recalled. “He was upbeat.”

She added: “They took a very good person. And everybody that knows my son knows that he is a laid back, quiet individual that works hard every day, pays taxes and comes home and plays video games. He’s not a gang-banger. He’s not a thug. He’s very respectable and I know he didn’t antagonize that officer.”

The man, identified by family members as Castile, was fatally shot by a police officer during a traffic stop on Wednesday in Falcon Heights, a suburb outside St. Paul. St. Anthony Police confirmed the death in a news conference but did not name Castile.

His girlfriend, identified as Diamond Reynolds, live-streamed the shooting in a nearly 10-minute Facebook video of herself, a blood-soaked Castile, and a gun-wielding officer. Police are investigating the video, the Associated Press reports.

“I appreciate Diamond streaming that video live because we never would know exactly what happened had she not put that out there like that,” Valerie told CNN.

“And then for him to blatantly shoot into that vehicle with that child in there, and that female. I know for a fact my son would never jeopardize his fiancée and the child by doing anything to provoke this officer to think that his life was in danger.”

She added: “I think he was just black in the wrong place.”

The shooting has sparked protests, with hundreds gathering overnight outside the governor’s mansion, chanting and demanding action from Gov. Mark Dayton, the AP reports.

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Valerie said that she rushed to the hospital upon learning of Castile’s death and added that “everything was unfolding while I was driving to the incident.”

“By the time we got to [the hospital] he was already deceased and they didn’t let me see my son’s body at all,” she said. “I have not identified my son’s body because they didn’t let me.”

In the video, Reynolds declared that Castile had a license to carry a gun and “he left the officer know that he had a fire arm and he was reaching for his wallet and the officer just shot him.”

Valerie spoke of her son’s gun permit, noting that Castile and his sister were at her home earlier in the day talking about their respective permits.

“They had a conversation about he conceal to carry permits that they both have and they were saying to be cautious, and my daughter said, ‘you know what? I really don’t even want to carry my gun because I’m afraid that they’ll shoot me first and then ask questions later,” Valerie said.

She added: “My son was a law-abiding citizen and he did nothing wrong. He had a permit to carry, but with all of that trying to do the right thing and live accordingly, abide the law, he was killed by the law. I’m outraged.”

Although said she could not bring herself to watch the Facebook video, Castile’s uncle, Clarence, told CNN that he had seen the video, and his “helpless” nephew suffering in the car.

“I saw my nephew shot by a man, clinging to his life, with no help,” Clarence said. “It was the most horrific thing I’d ever seen in my life.”

He said that the official who shot Castile is no police officer.

“He’s not an officer, he’s just a man. An officer is supposed to protect and serve. He’s not an officer,” Clarence said. “That was a man who did that. That man is a destroyer. He came in to our lives and took something from us.”