The video of the police killing of Philando Castile is shocking and heart-wrenching. In it, 32-year-old Castile is shown slumped over in the seat of his car, covered in blood, as the woman next to him pleads and prays for his life while a St. Anthony police officer—gun drawn—can be seen through the car's driver-side window. Castile would later be pronounced dead at Minneapolis' Hennepin County Medical Center. His girlfriend's daughter is reported to have witnessed everything from the back seat of the car.
In the hours since it was streamed live on Facebook on Wednesday evening, the horrifying footage of Castile's last moments has been seen hundreds of thousands, if not millions of times. His name has spread across social media, and become a rallying cry for people who are faced, yet again, with a case of a young black man killed by police for seemingly no reason at all. By Thursday morning, most of America woke to news of Castile's death in the sleepy Twin Cities suburb of Falcon Heights. But what of his life?
By killing Castile, the still-unnamed St. Anthony police officer killed what his friends and loved ones described as a decent, kind, hardworking man.
Philando Castile grew up in St. Paul, Minnesota, where he attended high school at St. Paul Central—a ten minute drive from where he was shot. According to his cousin, he was a straight-A student, and graduated with honors from one of the largest high schools in the state.
A Facebook page believed to have been Castile's describes him as having worked at Target, and the University of Minnesota, where it also says he attended.
Philando's mother, Valerie Castile, told CBS affiliate WCCO that her son was currently working at St. Paul's JJ Hill Montessori magnet school, where St. Paul Public School records show him listed as a cafeteria supervisor. Emerging from HCMC early Thursday morning, Castile's mother called him "a good man, a hardworking man," who had "worked since he was 18 years old."
"A good man" is also how Castile's girlfriend, Lavish "Diamond" Reynolds, described him to the officer who shot him.
According to Castile's uncle, Clarence Castile, Philando had been at JJ Hill for 12 to 15 years. Speaking with the Star Tribune, he described his nephew as "a good kid" who cooked "for the little kids." Castile's cousin, 31-year-old Antonio Johnson, told the paper that Philando was "a real upstanding citizen,” “by the book," and "very non-confrontational."
In a statement put out by St. Paul Public Schools, one coworker described Castile as "smart, over-qualified," and noted how much the students at JJ Hill loved him. "He wore a shirt and tie to his supervisor interview," the coworker recalled. "And said his goal was to one day 'sit on the other side of this table.’”
Noting his deep St. Paul roots, school superintendent Valeria Silva called him "one of our own."
In the video of Castile's death, Lavish Reynolds can be heard explaining that Castile was carrying a firearm, for which he had a license. According to the Star Tribune, Castile's court records show only misdemeanors and petty misdemeanors.
"Philando Castile was an upstanding citizen, according to all the reports that we’ve heard," Minneapolis NAACP president Nekima Levy-Pounds told reporters.
Philando Castile would have turned 33 on Friday.
This post is updating with new information as it becomes available.
Update: An earlier version of this story incorrectly identified the child who witnessed the shooting as Castile's daughter.