Minnesota resident Philando Castile was two days away from his 33rd birthday when he became the 601th person killed by police this year.
All because he tried to hand the cop his drivers license after he was pulled over for a broken tail light.
It was a senseless killing but it was routine killing. Another cop fearing for his life over something trivial and legal.
But it was unique in that seconds after the St. Anthony police officer shot him four time, his girlfriend began live streaming and narrating the scene in a superb demonstration of citizen journalism in the cyber era.
Diamond Reynold’s video immediately went viral on Facebook, capturing her surprisingly calm composure as her boyfriend lay dying next to her and the cop threatened to kill her too if she did anything to cause him fear.
Most people would have gone into a hysteric panic judging by the countless killings by cops we’ve seen on video over the years, including the viral killing of Alton Sterling only a day earlier out of Louisiana.
But Reynolds knew the drill. Keep calm and keep recording.
And she maintained that composure even after police ordered her out of the car at gunpoint, forcing her to walk backwards toward them where they yanked the phone out of her hand and tossed it aside.
Keep calm and keep recording. It is all we can do considering we are up against a highly organized killing machine of paramilitary death squads that routinely get away with murder.
Our American Paramilitary Death Squads are averaging three kills a day, almost all of them ruled justified, many of them completely unavoidable and unnecessary.
In fact, in the time I wrote this piece, there have been three more killings by the death squads. And by the time you read this, there will be many more.
And it’s been that way since 2013, which was when Killed by Police started tracking the killings.
Before that, not even the FBI felt the need to track these killings because they are, after all, government-sanctioned, which is why the cops are almost never charged.
And the excuses are always the same. He reached. He lunged. He tensed. He breathed.
Whatever excuse they use, it is obvious they have their lines down pat. And it is obvious they are being trained to kill more than they are being trained to serve and protect.
Anybody who believes otherwise is either naive, blind, stupid or aligned with the death squads that kill with such ease and glee while claiming to fear for their lives yet high-fiving each other after each killing as if celebrating another notch on their belt.
After all, killing is their business and business is good.
And what are our politicians doing about it? Nothing because they are beholden to the police unions.
If elected, Donald Trump said he will give them even more power because he doesn’t feel as if they have enough. And although Hillary Clinton has been too busy trying to dodge her own imprisonment to worry about addressing any police abuse issue in this country, she has been accepting donations from private prison lobbyists, which means she will also want to give police more power.
State legislators, meanwhile, are busy drafting laws to provide even more protections for police officers.
In May, Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards signed into effect the nation’s first Blue Lives Matter law, giving cops hate crime victim protective status.
Also in May, Minnesota Governor Mark Dayton signed a law that would make police body cam footage exempt from public records requests.
But their actions speak louder than their words because they passed bills that only strengthened their state’s paramilitary death squads rather than reduce their power.
And that is happening all throughout the country where cities are approving contracts with police unions that give them even more protection from investigations, allowing the paramilitary death squads to continue killing with impunity.
Some of you will no doubt make excuses for these murdering cops, saying they just want to go home to their families (where they abuse their wives at a rate of more than double the general population).
But shouldn’t Castile have had that same right?
According to his girlfriend, he had been pulled over for a broken tail light. And when the officer asked for his drivers license and registration, he informed the officer that he had a concealed weapons permit and was legally carrying a concealed weapon in an attempt to keep the officer from fearing for his life.
But that, of course, made him fear for his life anyway, which is why he pulled out his gun and fired four times.
And that was when his Reynolds began live steaming, providing viewers with the relevant details, knowing she could be shot next. Knowing her four-year-old daughter sitting in the back seat could be shot next.
Both Reynolds and her daughter remained stoic while the officer seemed to be on the verge of a breakdown.
Here is an excerpt from their tense exchange.
Reynolds: Stay with me. We got pulled over for a busted tail light in the back and he’s covered … they killed my boyfriend. He’s licensed to carry. He was trying to get out his ID and his wallet out his pocket and he let the officer know that he had a firearm and he was reaching for his wallet and the officer just shot him in his arm.
Officer: Ma’am, keep your hands where they are.
Reynolds: I am sir, no worries.
Reynolds: He just got his arm shot off. We got pulled over on Larpenteur.
Officer: I told him not to reach for it! I told him to get his head up!
Reynolds: He had, you told him to get his ID, sir, his driver’s license. Please don’t tell me he’s dead.
Reynolds: Please don’t tell me my boyfriend just went like that.
Officer: Keep your hands where they are.
Reynolds: Yes I will, sir. I will keep my hands where they are. Please don’t tell me that he’s gone. Please don’t tell me that he’s gone. Please officer, don’t tell me that you just did this to him. You shot four bullets into him, sir. He was just getting his license and registration, sir.
Then other officers ordered her out of the car at gunpoint, forcing her to walk backwards, telling her they were only detaining her until they “get this all sorted out.”
“They threw my phone, Facebook,” Reynolds said, informing her viewers why they were suddenly being treated to a view of the clear blue sky on such a dark day.
It was then when the graveness of the situation began to set in and she began to wail about the shooting.
“Please, Jesus, don’t let him be gone. Please!”
Meanwhile, a male continually yells “fuck” in the background, presumably the officer who shot and killed her boyfriend.
It was during that time that officers consoled the killer cop, not bothering to try and save Castile, not even bothering to check for his pulse, she said in a press conference today.
Reynolds was given her phone back and was placed handcuffed in the back seat of a patrol car with her daughter, still narrating, asking for somebody to pick her up, providing the location, informing readers that it was a “Chinese police officer who shot him,” a heavyset officer who stands no taller than five feet, six-and-a-half inches.
And once again, the graveness of the situation set in and she begins to yell and weep, only for her four-year-old daughter to console her.
“It’s ok, I’m right here with you,” the girl says shortly before her mother’s phone died.
St. Anthony police then took Reynolds to jail, separating her from her child, keeping her there until 5 a.m. this morning, even though she had not broken any law.
“They took me to jail. They didn’t feed us. They didn’t give us water,” she said after her release in a video you can see below. “They put me in a room and separated me from my child. They treated me like a prisoner.”
As of today, St. Anthony police have yet to say anything about the shooting other than to say “shots were fired” and “one adult male … is deceased” – in that passive manner of speaking where they never place the blame on themselves.
It is the language of the American Paramilitary Death Squads where their actions always speak louder than their words.
That is why we need to keep calm and keep recording. Anything else may get us killed.