Minnesota Governor 'Heartbroken' by Police Shooting: 'No One Should Be Killed for a Tail Light'

Gov. Mark Dayton speaks out against racism and 'distinguished African American men and women' being singled out

Photo: Stephen Maturen/Getty

Race was a factor in the controversial police shooting of a Minnesota man on Wednesday evening, Gov. Mark Dayton said at an emotional press conference Thursday afternoon.

“No one should be shot and killed in Minnesota for a … tail light,” Dayton told a crowd gathered in the wake of widespread scrutiny and protests following the death of Philando Castile. According to a video his girlfriend posted to Facebook immediately after the shooting, Castille was killed after police incorrectly assumed he was reaching for the firearm he was legally permitted to carry.

Castile’s girlfriend, Diamond Reynolds, recorded video in the immediate aftermath of the shooting, as Castile, 32, lay slumped and bleeding in the car next to her in the car and an unidentified police officer stood outside the car window, gun pointed toward him.

Authorities have said the shooting occurred during a traffic stop at about 9 p.m. Wednesday in Falcon Heights, a St. Paul, Minnesota suburb.

“He’s licensed to carry,” Reynolds says in the video. “He was trying to get out his ID and his wallet out his pocket and he let the officer know that he had a firearm and he was reaching for his wallet and the officer just shot him in his arm.”

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Dayton said Thursday he was “heartbroken for Minnesota.”

“I’ve heard in the last few hours from very distinguished African-American men and women who have recounted to me how they have been pulled over, singled out and treated very differently because of their race, from how white Minnesotans can expect to be covered,” Dayton said. “Would this have happened if the driver, the passengers, were white? I don’t think it would have.

“So I’m forced to confront, and I think all of us in Minnesota are forced to confront, that this kind of racism exists and that it’s incumbent upon all of us to vow that we’re going to do whatever we can to see that it doesn’t continue to happen.”

The state’s Bureau of Criminal Apprehension will investigate the shooting, turning over its evidence to prosecutors who will make the final decision on possible criminal proceedings.

In a statement obtained by PEOPLE, the U.S. Department of Justice said it would also be continue to monitor the situation. Dayton had previously requested they investigate.

“The Department of Justice will continue to monitor the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension investigation into the death of Philando Castile and stands ready to provide assistance to the Bureau as needed,” a spokesperson said. “The Department is prepared, as necessary, to conduct further investigation and consider this matter under applicable federal law.”

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