Video captures new US police shooting in Minnesota as Lousiana father mourned

Protesters march to the convenience store where Alton Sterling was shot and killed by an officer, on July 6, 2016, in Baton Rouge, Louisianna.
Protesters march to the convenience store where Alton Sterling was shot and killed by an officer, on July 6, 2016, in Baton Rouge, Louisianna.PHOTO: AFP

WASHINGTON (AFP) - The final moments of a black man shot by US police after being pulled over while driving were captured in a video viewed by some two million people Thursday (July 7), as civil rights investigators probed a similar incident in Louisiana.

Philando Castile's girlfriend livestreamed the bloody aftermath in the Minnesota town of Falcon Heights, just outside Minneapolis.

"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," the woman, identified on her Facebook page as Lavish Reynolds and also known as "Diamond", is heard saying in the Facebook Live video.

At times, a very composed Reynolds narrates Wednesday evening's incident calmly, before wailing and growing increasingly anguished as it becomes increasingly clear that Castile would not make it out alive.

Castile, 32, can be seen in the driver seat, large blood stains spreading through his white shirt. He was later taken to hospital and pronounced dead.

"By the time we got to Hennepin County, he was already deceased. They didn't let me see my son's body, at all," his mother Valerie Castile said on CNN.

Castile's uncle Clarence Castile described the police officer who shot his nephew as a "destroyer". "He came into our lives and done something and took something from us," he added.

Valerie Castile said the girlfriend had not been located since the incident, adding that on the scene, police "wouldn't even let us get close enough to her to even talk with her". She recalled an ominous conversation with Castile's sister just hours before the incident.

"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'."

The latest video of a controversial police killing followed on the heels of another piece of shock footage in which an officer in Louisiana shot dead at point-blank range a father of five early Tuesday.

In both cases, the victims had a gun with them, though there is no indication they pointed their weapon at police at any time during the incidents.

A peaceful crowd of a hundred people kept vigil through the night outside the Baton Rouge convenience store where Alton Sterling, 37, was shot by an officer while already pinned to the ground.

At the Triple S Mart store, a mural of Sterling had already been painted on the side of the building.

"I'm so outraged," prayer memorial organiser Keon Preston told The Advocate newspaper.

Sterling's killing protests in the city and outrage nationwide over the latest case of alleged police brutality against black suspects.

The killing in Minnesota compounded an already widespread sense of anger and disbelief.

In the 10-minute video already viewed more than two million times, Reynolds says her boyfriend, a school cafeteria worker, was pulled over for a broken taillight.

Reynolds, who was sitting beside him, with her young daughter in the back seat, later says there was also marijuana in the car.

Castile had a legal licence to carry a firearm and was reaching for his licence and vehicle registration when police shot him, she adds.

Police said the incident was being investigated and a handgun was recovered at the scene.

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

In the Louisiana case, police said they intervened after an anonymous caller told police they had been threatened by a man with a gun.

His family's lawyer said Sterling was merely selling CDs outside a convenience store, with the permission of the shop's owner.

Officials have appealed for calm after protesters, including friends and relatives of Sterling, gathered outside the store after the shooting, some blocking roads.

Calling the video of the killing "disturbing", Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards said federal authorities would take over the probe, led by the Justice Department's Civil Rights Division.

"I have very serious concerns," Edwards, who said he had spoken with the White House, told a news conference in Baton Rouge. "The video is disturbing to say the least."

The two officers involved, Blane Salamoni and Howie Lake II, have been placed on administrative leave, pending the results of the investigation.

In Baton Rouge, emotions were running high.

Holding up handmade signs, the protesters outside the convenience store chanted: "Black lives matter" and "Hands up, don't shoot".

At a press conference with relatives of the victim, the head of the city's chapter of the NAACP civil rights group, Michael McClanahan, called for the resignations of the police chief and mayor.

Both city officials responded with promises of transparency.

Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton called Sterling's death a "tragedy".

"Something is profoundly wrong when so many Americans have reason to believe that our country doesn't consider them as precious as others because of the colour of their skin," she said.