Family, friends and supporters gathered at the Cathedral of Saint Paul Thursday to pay their final respects to the African-American man killed by a police officer during a traffic stop in Minnesota last week.
A horse-drawn carriage led Philando Castile’s casket, draped in red and white roses, through the streets of the city — passing J.J. Hill Montessori Magnet School where he worked — before arriving at the 3,000-capacity church around 10 a.m, KARE 11 reports.
Cathedral officials said Valerie Castile chose the catholic house of worship for her son’s funeral in hopes of seeing prayers for “peace and reconciliation” from the local community.
Gov. Mark Dayton and U.S. Rep. Keith Ellison, along with several other state and municipal elected officials, were among the thousands in attendance.
The 90-minute service included reflections from family and faith leaders.
Uncle Clarence Castile remembered the 32-year-old cafeteria supervisor as “a young, loving, handsome, giving, caring individual.”
“I’m just amazed at how many people care about Philando and care about what happened to him,” he told the crowd at the ceremony, per the Star Tribune.
“My brother, my hero, your heart was so pure and solid as gold … I love you forever and your legacy will continue to live on,” read a funeral program note written by Castile’s sister, Allysza, according to the Star Tribune. “You made history, you opened their eyes.”
Rev. Dr. Steve Daniels Jr. of the Shiloh Missionary Baptist Church addressed the controversial events leading to Castile’s death in the eulogy.
“We have the death of an innocent black man whose life was taken at the hands of an officer due to his wide-set nose,” Daniels said, according to CNN. “Racially profiled, pulled over for a broken taillight, shot multiple times next to his fiancée and her 4-year-old daughter. Thank God that they were not struck by some of those bullets.”
Diamond Reynolds captured the chilling moments after the shooting on Facebook Live. She has said that Castile notified police of his firearm and was reaching for his wallet to produce a permit for the weapon when St. Anthony officer Jeronimo Yanez shot him several times.
An attorney for Yanez has confirmed reports that Castile was stopped, at least in part, due to his resemblance to a robbery suspect.
“Mr. Castile caught the attention of my client,” Thomas Kelly told the Chicago Tribune Monday. “That was one of the reasons he pulled him over.”
Days earlier Kelly said Yanez was reacting to the display of the gun when he opened fire July 8.
“This had nothing to do with race. This had everything to do with the presence of a gun,” Kelly said in an interview with the Associated Press Saturday.
Family members released a copy of Castile’s gun license to local news outlets Tuesday evening. CBS Minnesota published a copy of the permit on its website. A letter from the Hennepin County Sheriff’s Office dated June 4, 2015, explains Castile’s responsibilities as a permit holder.
“…you must have the permit card and a driver’s license, and a driver’s license, state identification card or other government-issued photo identification in immediate possession at all times when carrying a pistol, and you must display the permit card and identification document upon lawful demand by a peace officer, as defined in section 626.84, subdivision 1.”
— Jennifer Mayerle (@jennifermayerle) July 13, 2016