Facebook blames glitch for temporary takedown of Minnesota police-shooting video

Add a fatal police shooting to the list of things that have been live-streamed on Facebook.

Wednesday night in Falcon Heights, Minnesota, a police officer shot Philando Castile, 32, of St. Paul during a traffic stop. He later died at a hospital. But before then, his girlfriend used Facebook Live to broadcast the aftermath of the shooting, showing a bleeding Castile sitting in the driver’s seat.

Saying they got pulled over for a busted taillight, a woman identified by other media outlets as Diamond Reynolds narrates the nearly 10-minute video, appearing to believe Castile was shot in the arm after he reached to get his ID. She said Castile had a gun and was licensed to carry it. She grows increasingly worried as the video goes on, saying “please don’t tell me that he’s gone. Please, officer, don’t tell me that you just did this to him.” Reynolds’ phone kept recording even after police ordered her to get out of the car and she was handcuffed, and after she was placed in the back of a police car and begins to cry. A little girl she referred to as her daughter, an apparent witness to the whole thing, can be heard saying “it’s OK, I’m right here with you.”

The shooting death of Castile, who’s black, comes a day after the fatal police shooting of another African-American man, Alton Sterling, in Louisiana. Two videos of that shooting have been widely shared online. The Justice Department has opened a civil rights investigation into Sterling’s killing.

Sgt. Jon Mangseth, interim chief of the St. Anthony Police Department, said he knew about the video that was live-streamed on Facebook.

The video, which appeared on the page of someone named Lavish Reynolds, reportedly was viewed more than 1 million times before it became unavailable on the social network — I couldn’t find it for a few minutes last night after having viewed it, and Lavish Reynolds’ account seemed to be down, too — later reappeared with a warning that it contains graphic material.

“We’re very sorry that the video was temporarily inaccessible,” a Facebook spokeswoman said in an email to SiliconBeat Wednesday night in which she confirmed that the video was live-streamed on the social site. “It was down due to a technical glitch and restored as soon as we were able to investigate.” She did not answer my question about whether Lavish Reynolds’ page was deactivated at any point.

Facebook Live, which is a fairly new feature, has seen its share of high-profile recordings. It — along with Twitter-owned Periscope — was used by Democratic lawmakers during their sit-in over gun control a couple of weeks ago after CSPAN’s camera feed was turned off. Also last month, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg used it to conduct a Q&A with astronauts on the International Space Station.

But not everything streamed live falls into the rated-G, feel-good category. As Facebook, Periscope and Google’s YouTube push their live-video offerings to their users, they are grappling with how to handle live streams that contain graphic content. A Chicago man was shot and killed while live-streaming on Facebook in June, days after a man who killed police officers in France took to Facebook Live to encourage more violence; Periscope users have streamed a suicide, a rape and a shooting death.

“It’s almost impossible to control how people use social media,” Thomas Husson, an analyst at tech research firm Forrester Research, told the New York Times in May after a woman jumped in front of a train near Paris in May while filming herself on Periscope.


Photo: Demonstrators chant as they block Summit Avenue in front of the Governor’s Residence in St. Paul, Minn., early Thursday morning, July 7, 2016. Philando Castile was shot by police in a car Wednesday night during a traffic stop in the St. Paul suburb of Falcon Heights. The 32-year-old man, who was seen bleeding in a video streamed on Facebook by a woman who said she was his girlfriend, later died at a hospital. (Jeff Wheeler/Star Tribune via AP)


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  • grey

    I’m not a police hater, but these two cops need to go to jail. OR if they don’t kick off the force and LOSE ALL their benefits.

  • Reynolds can be heard saying on video that the officer “asked him for
    license and registration. He told him that it was in his wallet but he
    had a pistol on him because he’s licensed to carry. The officer said,
    ‘DON’T MOVE!.’ As he was putting his hands back up, the officer shot him
    in the arm four or five times.”

    The policeman clearly said, “DON’T MOVE!”

    What did the guy do with the gun in his pocket….but “look like” he went for it.

    The cop didn’t know what he was going to do. People do shoot cops, FYI.

    Why can’t people see this? He was ORDERED AT GUNPOINT TO NOT MOVE.

    What does, “Don’t Move Mean?” NOT MOVE!!!


    All this media and racist B.S. is nothing but hot-air and idiots foaming at the mouth.

  • He was ordered by the police, at gunpoint, “Don’t Move!!”

    Maybe the guy in the car was scared or confused, but he raised his hands back in the air and then it was like a shooting gallery.

    This is going to be interesting to see what the judge and jury will decide. Seems like if his hands truly went up, that’s a sign of surrender. Apparently, the police didn’t think so. Wow.