FALCON HEIGHTS, Minn. — Hours after her son’s death was live-streamed on Facebook, Valerie Castile was remarkably composed.
“I want to remember him the way I last saw him leaving my home earlier that evening,” she said Thursday.
Her son, Philando Castile, died Wednesday night after he was shot by an officer who pulled him over in a traffic stop in Falcon Heights, Minn. Philando Castile’s girlfriend live-streamed on Facebook the moments after the shooting.
Valerie Castile and Philando’s uncle, Clarence Castile, gave a 23-minute interview in which they talked about Philando’s life and what it’s like to be black in America.
“He had a permit to carry. But with all of that, trying to do the right thing and live accordingly, abide the law, he was killed by the law,” Valerie Castile said.
Just a few hours before his death, Philando and his sister talked about their concealed carry permits at their mother’s house.
“My daughter said, ‘You know what, I really don’t even want to carry my gun because I’m afraid they’ll shoot me first and ask questions later,'” Valerie Castile said. “I think he’s just black in the wrong place.”
Valerie Castile maintains her son was a law-abiding citizen, and said she thinks the officer who shot him was “trigger happy.”
“What’s the difference in complying and you get killed anyway?” Valerie Castile said.
Philando grew up knowing he should always comply with the police, Valerie Castile said.
“I always told them, whatever you do, when you get stopped by the police, comply, comply, comply,” she said.
She and Clarence Castile believe he did so in this situation, even though the live-stream did not start until after he had been shot.
“He’s no thug,” Valerie Castile said.
Philando Castile has been consistently employed, Valerie Castile said, working since age 15 and paying taxes since age 18. Clarence Castile said the last conversation he had with his nephew was on Mother’s Day, when they talked about his job in a school cafeteria and what he was saving for retirement.
“That man is a destroyer, and he came into our lives and done something and took something from us,” Clarence Castile said.
The Castile family says they want justice for Philando Castile and they hope the officer responsible will be sent to prison.
“If I can be held accountable for what I do, these officers should, too,” Valerie Castile said.