July 16 would have been Philando Castile’s 33rd birthday. He was shot and killed by officer Jeronimo Yanez in Falcon Heights, Minnesota after being pulled over for an alleged broken taillight on Wednesday. His girlfriend, Diamond “Lavish” Reynolds, recorded the aftermath of the shooting and live-streamed Castile’s final moments on Facebook. In the incredibly horrific video, Reynolds said that Castile, who was licensed to carry a weapon, was reaching for his identification when Yanez shot him not once, but “four or five” times. Minnesota Governor Mark Drayton gave a statement about Castile’s unwarranted, heinous death, saying, “Would this have happened if those passengers, the driver and the passengers, were white? I don’t think it would have…I think all of us in Minnesota are forced to confront that this kind of racism exists.”
A day before Castile died, Alton Sterling, 37, was tackled to the ground, tasered, and then shot and killed by officers Blane Salamoni and Howie Lake II outside of a convenience store in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. The officers were initially responding to the call about an armed man. Sterling did not brandish his gun or threaten officers. Like Castile, he was shot multiple times.
These men, these innocent Black men, were treated inhumanely. They did not deserve to die, and there is more to their story than how they left this world. Here’s what we know about Alton Sterling and Philando Castile.