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MN Lawmaker Makes Emotional Plea for Changes After Police Shooting

Activists, lawmakers and civil rights groups are calling for policy changes in the wake of the fatal police shooting of Philando Castile. (iStockphoto)
Activists, lawmakers and civil rights groups are calling for policy changes in the wake of the fatal police shooting of Philando Castile. (iStockphoto)
July 7, 2016

ST. PAUL, Minn. - The fatal police shooting of Philando Castile during a traffic stop near St. Paul has sparked outrage from community activists and some state lawmakers.

Protests were held outside the Minnesota Governor's Residence today over a traffic stop gone wrong in which the 32-year-old black man was shot several times by a Minnesota police officer in front of his fiance and 4-year-old daughter.

State Rep. Peggy Flanagan, DFL-St. Louis Park, said she's heartbroken, and that as a policymaker she wants to see the state make changes to prevent these tragedies from happening.

"It's senseless," she said, "and I don't know how many more people, more black men, have to lose their lives before we get serious."

Flanagan is calling for more sensitivity and bias training for police officers. Gov. Mark Dayton has asked the U.S. Department of Justice to start an immediate investigation into the shooting.

An emotional Flanagan said her thoughts now are with the young girl who watched her father get shot while she was in the back seat. The girl's mother, Diamond Reynolds, told reporters she was detained and questioned and unable to have contact with her daughter for several hours.

"I'm so sorry I'm crying, but a 4-year-old watches their father be executed in front of them and isn't able to be comforted by their mom," Flanagan said. "Like, what's wrong with this?"

Meanwhile, the American Civil Liberties Union of Minnesota said Castile now is the 123rd black person in the United States to be killed by a law enforcement officer this year. The group is calling for the state to set up an independent police review agency to look into future police shootings. Its statement is online here.

Brandon Campbell, Public News Service - MN