Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton on Thursday said “this kind of racism exists” as he called for the U.S. Justice Department to investigate after the fatal police shooting of Philando Castile, adding that he doesn’t think the fatal shooting would “have happened if those passengers…were white.”
The governor said he was “deeply offended” by the incident, in which he said race was a factor, after a police officer shot the 32-year-old black man dead during a traffic stop while his girlfriend and her daughter were in the car. “I’m heartbroken for Minnesota,” Dayton said at a news conference. “Justice will be served. Justice must be served if we’re going to have a chance to repair the terrible damage that has been done.”
The governor said he was “forced to confront” the fact that “this kind of racism exists,” before suggesting that a white passenger would have been treated differently by police.
“Would this have happened if those passengers, the driver and the passengers were white?” Dayton asked. “I don’t think it would have.”
Dayton said that while facts still need to be surfaced, there’s “every indication” that the police officer’s decision to pull the trigger was “way in excess of what the situation called for.”
Diamond Reynolds, the victim’s girlfriend who recorded video of the aftermath of the shooting, said their vehicle was pulled over for a “busted taillight.” The officer had asked Castile for his license and registration, she says. But when Castile reached for the information as requested and also informed the officer that he had a gun in the car and was licensed to carry, the officer opened fire, according to Reynolds.
“My sense of outrage for what occurred is very real,” Dayton said. “Nobody should be shot and killed in Minnesota for a taillight being out of function.”