Philando Castile Incident Turns Respectability Politics on Its Head Once Again: He Took Gun Safety, Police Compliance Class

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Philando Castile, 32, took gun safety and police compliance class before he was shot by a Minnesota cop on July 6, 2016. Image courtesy of CBS Minnesota.
Philando Castile, 32, took a gun safety and police compliance class before he was shot by a Minnesota cop on July 6, 2016. Image courtesy of CBS Minnesota.

Complying with police proved fatal for 32-year-old Philando Castile. A course on police compliance wasn’t enough to spare the Minnesota man’s life either.

According to the New York Daily News, Castile took a gun safety class in which he was taught how to calmly react and comply with police officers during a traffic stop in which a weapon was present in the vehicle.

The beloved school cafeteria supervisor and his sister, Allysza Castille, completed the state-mandated course back in March of 2015, the Associated Press reports. Dan Wellman, proprietor of Total Defense in Ramsey, Minnesota, confirmed the Castiles attended the class together last year.

Wellman explained to the publication that students are repeatedly instructed on how to handle traffic stops or any other encounter they might have with law enforcement officials. He said students are taught to comply with all of the officer’s demands, hand over their permits to carry along with their driver’s license/photo ID, and calmly respond to follow-up questions concerning firearms and where they might be located.

“We make several jokes about it during class: ‘I have a gun’ is not the way to say you have a gun on you,” Wellman said.

The bloody aftermath of Castile’s death was caught on camera by his girlfriend, Diamond Reynolds, who claims a Minnesota cop fired four shots at her boyfriend as he reached for his license and registration — which the officer instructed him to do. Castile also informed the officer he had a firearm and license to carry.

The couple was initially pulled over for a busted tail light; but the responding officer later admitted he pulled them over because Castile matched the description of a robbery suspect with a “wide set nose,” Atlanta Black Star reports.

“What had Philando done?” asked Rev. Steve Daniels, who delivered the eulogy for the slain man at his funeral Thursday. “What had he done? He wasn’t resisting. He wasn’t running. He was respected by many. But most of all, he respected the law.”

“Once again, we have the death of an innocent black man whose life was taken by the hands of a police officer due to his … wide … set . . . nose,” Daniels continued, briefly pausing between the last few words. “He was racially profiled, shot multiple times before his friend, his fiancée, his future wife.”

According to the Associated Press, Castile was stopped and/or ticketed at least 52 times in Minnesota since 2002, racking up a total of 82 misdemeanor or petty misdemeanor violations. However, over half of the 86 charges were dropped, and court records show the Minnesota man had no serious criminal history.

Castile was pulled over at least twice after receiving his permit to carry in June 2015, the publication states. Records don’t show whether he had a gun on him at the time of the stops.

“My son was profiled and he was executed,” Castile’s mother, Valerie Castile, said. “There’s just no two ways around that.”

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