What We Know About Alton Sterling And Philando Castile
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.
Alton Sterling was a father of five. His eldest child, son Cameron, was crying next to his mother Quinyetta McMillon when she delivered a speech no mother should have to give during a press conference.
The CD Man
Sterling was affectionately referred to as “The CD Man.” For years, he sold CDs outside of Triple S Food Mart in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. A store employee, Mufleh Alatiyat told the AP that Sterling often gave CDs away for free and purchased food and drinks for customers.
He Loved To Cook
According to The Advocate, Sterling had been staying at a transitional housing center called Living Waters Outreach Ministries in recent months. A resident there, Calvin Wilson, said that whatever Sterling cooked, “he cooked enough for everybody.”
He Never Would Have Fought Police
Sterling’s cousin Sharida told The Advocate that Sterling “would have never fought the police.” According to her, he would have been too scared to pull a gun on the cops.
Actress and content creator Issa Rae created a scholarship fund for Sterling’s children. The fund raised more than $200,000 in less than nine hours.
Philando, affectionately called Phil, was born in 1983 in St. Louis, Missouri. He moved with his family to the Twin Cities a few years after he was born.
Diamond “Lavish” Reynolds
Philando’s partner (some publications claim that she’s his fiancée, others say girlfriend), Diamond “Lavish” Reynolds, referred to him as her “lifeline” and “best friend.” Reynolds’s 4-year-old daughter was in the back seat of the car when Castile was shot and killed. In the video that Reynolds recorded, her daughter can be heard saying, “It’s okay. I’m right here with you.”
He Had a Sister
Castile’s younger sister, Allysza, is 23 years old. Mere hours before her brother was shot and killed, she posted on social media about Alton Sterling’s death:
“I haven’t watched the video of this man being killed by police and I will not because it will literally break my heart and I’m soo tired of seeing this happen to my PEOPLE for no reason ! All these killings caught camera and still no justice it makes me sick ! RIP #altonsterling”
He Was A Phenomenal Student
According to an interview with cousin Antonio Johnson in the Minneapolis Star Tribune, Castile was a straight-A honors student at Central High School. He graduated from the school in 2001.
He Loved Children
Castile worked at J.J. Hill Montessori Magnet School in St. Paul, Minnesota, managing the cafeteria. He worked for Saint Paul Public Schools since he was 19 years old and, beginning in 2002, in the nutrition services department.
In a statement released by the school district, a co-worker said of Castile: “Kids loved him. He was smart, over-qualified. He was quiet, respectful, and kind. I knew him as warm and funny; he called me his ‘wing man.’ He wore a shirt and tie to his supervisor interview and said his goal was to one day ‘sit on the other side of this table.’”
A parent of a child who attends J.J. Hill Montessori posted on Facebook: “This was a GOOD MAN.” The parent also said that Castile, who knew every child’s name, snuck extra graham crackers to kids and “pushed extra food in them like a grandma.”