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How Castile Told Officer About Gun Critical in Final Moments

The final moments before Philando Castile was killed by a police officer during a traffic stop in suburban St. Paul revolved around a gun he was licensed to carry, trained to use safely and instructed to tell authorities about when stopped.

But just how he informed the officer — and whether the officer followed his own training — gets to the heart of the investigation into Castile’s death last week.

Castile, who was black, was fatally shot July 6 after he was pulled over by St. Anthony police officer Jeronimo Yanez, who is Latino. Castile’s girlfriend streamed the aftermath live on Facebook and said Castile was shot while reaching for his ID after telling the officer he had a gun permit and was armed.

Yanez’s attorney has said the officer reacted after seeing a gun, and that one of the reasons he pulled Castile over was because he thought he looked like a “possible match” for an armed robbery suspect. Castile’s family says he was profiled because of his race. They were among more than 1,500 mourners who filled the Cathedral of Saint Paul for his funeral Thursday.

A letter from the Hennepin County Sheriff’s Office confirms Castile, 32, got his permit last year. The letter, dated June 4, 2015, says Castile’s permit is enclosed. It also says that he must have his permit card and photo identification when carrying a pistol, and must display those items “upon lawful demand by a peace officer.”

Allysza Castile said she and her brother took a required gun safety class together last year.

Dan Wellman, owner of Total Defense in Ramsey, confirmed the Castiles came to class in May 2015. Wellman doesn’t remember the pair. He said he wasn’t teaching the class that day.

But each class is told repeatedly how to handle a traffic stop or any encounter with law enforcement, he said. Students are taught to comply with every demand, hand over their permits to carry with their driver’s licenses and calmly answer follow-up questions about licensed firearms, including where they are.

“We make several jokes about it during class: ‘I have a gun’ is not the way to say you have a gun on you,” Wellman said.

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