Another black man shot dead by US police

Still images from a video taken of the Baton Rouge victim, Mr Alton Sterling, as he was shot dead by the police on Tuesday. The incident was captured on the mobile phone camera of a local store owner.
Still images from a video taken of the Baton Rouge victim, Mr Alton Sterling, as he was shot dead by the police on Tuesday. The incident was captured on the mobile phone camera of a local store owner.PHOTO: REUTERS

2nd such incident in a week adds to public ire as grisly videos of the shootings air over social media

WASHINGTON • A man has been shot by Minnesota police after being pulled over while driving, in at least the second shooting this week of a black man by police officers in the United States.

The aftermath of the latest shooting was captured in a grisly video and streamed live via Facebook.

"Oh my God, please don't tell me he's dead, please don't tell me my boyfriend just went like that... You shot four bullets into him, sir," a woman, identified on her Facebook page as Ms Lavish Reynolds, is heard saying in the video shot on her camera phone.

Family and activists yesterday identified the victim as school cafeteria worker Philando Castile, 32.

In the video, he can be seen in the driver's seat, large bloodstains spreading through his white shirt. At least one officer was pointing a gun through the driver's side window.

As Mr Castile moans and appears to lose consciousness, the officer can be heard in the background shouting expletives in apparent frustration.

Government officials and the police have vowed a complete and transparent investigation and appealed to the city of Baton Rouge - after a numbing series of high-profile, racially charged incidents elsewhere - to remain calm.

Ms Reynolds explains that, after being pulled over for a broken tail light, her boyfriend was shot while reaching for his driver's licence. She says he was legally licensed to carry a firearm and had told officers that he had a gun in the car.

Ms Reynolds was sitting next to him, and her young daughter was also travelling in the car.

The shooting occurred on Wednesday night in Falcon Heights, a town north of the state capital St Paul. Mr Castile died in hospital. The police said the incident was being investigated, and the officer involved had been put on leave.

The shooting occurred the same day that the Justice Department opened a civil rights investigation into the fatal shooting on Tuesday of a black man by the Baton Rouge, Louisiana, police.

The victim, Mr Alton Sterling, 37, was killed as two white police officers responded to a call about an armed man. The officers had Mr Sterling pinned to the pavement when at least one of them shot him.

As in the Minnesota case, the encounter was captured on mobile phone videos - one by a bystander and another by a store owner.

They have been seen repeatedly on television and social media, triggering anger over alleged police brutality against African-Americans.

Mr Sterling, who was selling compact discs outside a food store at the time of the incident, had a long criminal history including convictions for battery and illegal possession of a gun.

But it is not clear if the officers knew any of that when they tried to arrest him. The police said they had been put on administrative leave.

Several hundred people gathered for a prayer vigil on Wednesday near the spot where Mr Sterling was killed, with speakers urging peaceful protests, justice and unity.

Government officials and the police have vowed a complete and transparent investigation and appealed to the city of Baton Rouge - after a numbing series of high-profile, racially charged incidents elsewhere - to remain calm.

The two shootings came on the eve of a closely watched trial in Baltimore yesterday of an officer charged in the death of Freddie Gray, a black man who suffered a broken spine in the back of a police van.

His death last year, a week after being arrested, triggered rioting in which nearly 400 buildings were damaged or destroyed.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, NEW YORK TIMES, REUTERS, WASHINGTON POST

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 08, 2016, with the headline 'Another black man shot dead by US police'. Print Edition | Subscribe