MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – More than two months after the police shooting of Philando Castile, the conversation continues over race and law enforcement.
Castile was shot and killed on July 6 during a traffic stop in Falcon Heights, a city that contracts with the St. Anthony Police Department.
Castile’s girlfriend showed the aftermath of the shooting on Facebook Live and said Castile was reaching for his ID, not a gun.
Officer Jeronimo Yanez, the officer involved, remains on paid leave as the investigation continues.
Some residents are voicing their concerns about the broken relationship between police and the community. Many were outspoken before the shooting death of Castile, but even more are stepping up and venting their frustrations and experiences now, hoping for a change.
Just a week ago, protesters shut down a meeting in Falcon Heights that was discussing creating a task force to advise the city on police procedures, training and strategy.
On Wednesday night, a similar dialogue was happening at the St. Anthony Village City Council meeting.
One of the items discussed was a request to create a collaborative work group to conduct a formal racial bias assessment of policing by its police department and the city.
Kristine Lizdas, a resident of St Anthony and an attorney, represents a group called “St. Anthony Villagers for Community Action.”
She told council it needs to pay attention and listen. She also stated a healthy democracy needs checks on the police department.
John Thompson, an employee with St. Paul Public Schools and close friend of Castile, also spoke.
“In the black community when those disco lights come on behind our car, I’ll say for myself, I’m still in fear for my life. Especially down that stretch of Larpenteur, I am in fear for my life. And even when I pass St. Anthony, Falcon Heights, I still have to pass Roseville. I still fear for my life,” Thompson said. “I don’t know what Philando was thinking driving down that stretch of Larpenteur because it’s well known in the black community not to drive down that stretch of Larpenteur. You end up on your knees behind a traffic stop. You may end up on your belly behind a traffic stop,” Thompson said.
Mayor Jerry Faust said he wants to hear more and is interested in forming a work group to address their issues. He also wants to include Falcon Heights and Lauderdale since St. Anthony has a contract with those cities for policing.
The mayor said maybe they’ll start by discussing body cameras.
He hopes to continue the talks at the next council meeting.