Squad Car Vandalized, But Mostly Quiet Night For Minnesota Shooting Protest

Protesters remained in front of the Minnesota governor’s residence Friday, continuing a vigil that began hours after a police officer shot and killed a 32-year-old black man in a Twin Cities suburb.

While that gathering was peaceful, St. Paul police reported that early Friday some people left the Summit Avenue site and went a block to Grand Avenue, where they broke windows in an unoccupied police car and damaged a business window.

“St. Paul officers responded to prevent further damage,” a police statement said. “Chemical irritant and marking rounds were used to stop dangerous criminal activity. One arrest was made and the group dispersed.”

Police said they will continue to block off Summit in front of the governor’s state-owned home to allow protesters to stay.

The scene at the governor’s residence, in one of St. Paul’s most exclusive neighborhoods, resembled a scaled-down version of a sit-in that occurred at a Minneapolis police precinct headquarters last November after black 24-year-old Jamar Clark was shot and killed by a white police officer. Tents were sent up along Summit as water and food were brought in for protesters.

In the meantime, Minnesotans were watching and reading news accounts from Dallas, where five police officers were killed and seven injured Thursday night in what officials said was a sniper attack aimed at white police officers. The shooting, which also left the sniper dead, came after police shot and killed Philando Castile in Falcon Heights, Minn., and another black man in Louisiana.

Gov. Mark Dayton said Minnesotans join in mourning the losses. “Today, our hearts also go out to the many, many law enforcement officers who faithfully serve our communities, and risk their lives every day and night to protect and serve the people of Minnesota and the nation.”

The governor asked “all Minnesotans, from all faiths and walks of life, to pray and work for an end to the violence that has defined this last week. I urge all of us, everywhere, to call upon our own best natures: to care for one another, seek to understand one another, and together build stronger, safer communities for everyone.”

Lt. Gov. Tina Smith said law enforcement officers’ jobs are “more difficult than most of us can comprehend.”

“Minnesota and the nation are better than the acts of violence and murder that have transpired over these last several days,” Smith said. “I have faith that good people, with good hearts, doing good things, will help heal the wounds of this terrible week, and create safer communities for all of our people.”

U.S. Rep. Betty McCollum, in whose district Castile was shot, said Americans have work to do. “Last night’s attack on the Dallas police, and the deaths of Alton Sterling (in Baton Rouge) and Philando Castile this week, remind us that we have much work to do to build safe and non-violent communities for police officers and for all our citizens. We need to do this work together.”

Minnesota’s Bureau of Criminal Apprehension late Thursday identified the St. Anthony police officers who stopped Castile’s car for what Castile’s girlfriend said was a broken tail light.

Officer Jeronimo Yanez went to Castile’s door after stopping the car, and is the one who shot Castile, the BCA reported. Officer Joseph Kauser went to the passenger door.

Both officers have spent at least four years with the St. Anthony Police Department, which also services Falcon Heights.

“At one point during the interaction, Officer Yanez discharged his weapon, striking Castile multiple times,” a BCA statement said. “No one else was injured. A gun was recovered at the scene.”

Other officers and members of the St. Paul Fire Department provided Castile medical attention until an ambulance arrives, the BCA reported.

In a video she streamed live starting moments after the shooting, Diamond Reynolds showed her boyfriend in the driver’s seat, his T-shirt covered in blood and, at first, groaning. Soon, however, Castile was still, his head leaving back between the seats.

The video showed her and her 4-year-old daughter being removed from the car before she was handcuffed and placed in the back seat of a police car, where she continued a narration of events.

“Law enforcement personnel transported Reynolds and her daughter to the Roseville Police Department, where Reynolds provided a statement to investigators about the incident,” the BCA said. “Afterward, a Roseville police officer brought Reynolds home.”

Reynold said she was treated like a criminal.

The BCA is investigating the case and provided little information about the shooting.

The union that represents Yanez and Kauser issued a statement saying that the shooting was a terrible situation, especially for the Castile family.

However, the statement by Executive Director Sean Gormley of Law Enforcement Labor Services said, it is “important to remember, despite the graphic nature of the video, that there is still a great deal we don’t know about what happened in this incident and why.”

In the video, Yanez was heard saying that he told Castile to keep his hand up. However, Reynolds told the officer that he has asked for Castile’s driver’s license, which was in his wallet in a rear pocket.

Dayton, Smith, McCollum and other members of the Minnesota congressional delegation have asked for a federal investigation of the shooting. While the Obama administration has said it will cooperate with the BCA, there has been no promise of a separate investigation.