'I stand by what I said': Dayton reiterates he thinks race was a factor in Castile shooting


Calling it a "terrible time here in Minnesota," Gov. Mark Dayton Friday said he stands by his comment that the Philando Castile shooting was influenced by his race, and commended demonstrators for remaining peaceful.

Dayton Thursday was quick to say he believes race played a factor when Castile was fatally shot by St. Anthony police following a traffic stop, saying: "Would this have happened if the driver and the passengers had been white? I don't think it would have."

The comment won him praise from a few groups, who applauded his direct acknowledgement of racial issues. But Dayton was quickly criticized by others, notably the president of the St. Paul police union, who said Dayton's comments are based on emotion, not fact, and "do a disservice" to police officers.

But 24 hours later, Dayton said that's how he feels based on the information he has.

"I stand by what I said yesterday," Dayton replied.

When asked if he thinks those comments could influence how the Bureau of Criminal Apprehension handles the investigation, Dayton said:

"I don't think my statements should have or will have any influence on them whatsoever."

On Dallas and officers' service

Dayton, multiple times, noted how police officers put their lives on the line to keep people safe.

In regards to Thursday's shooting in Texas that killed five Dallas cops, Dayton said it "reminds all of us that law enforcement officials here in Minnesota and throughout this country risk their lives every day and every night to keep all of us safe and protected."

He also ordered flags to be flown at half-staff in honor of those attacked and murdered in Dallas.

“The terrible acts of murder in Dallas have shocked and horrified the nation. Minnesotans join with the nation in mourning with the families and friends of these fallen officers," he said.

Dayton went on to say that he has "enormous gratitude" for all officers who stand, exposed to danger, to protect himself and other residents.

The Daily Beast has compiled stories of the victims in the Dallas shooting.

On the protests

"It's been remarkably peaceful so far. I'm very grateful," Dayton said of the hundreds of people who have demonstrated in front of the Governor's Residence in St. Paul, and those that later marched through the streets.

Saying he can hear the crowd from inside the residence, Dayton noted he hopes things continue to stay that way as demonstrators exercise their First Amendment rights.

He noted an incident where some protesters broke away from the group and damaged squad car and business windows.

Dayton said those actions "are not representative" of the group of protesters as a whole.

He said he does not have any plans to move the demonstrators off the street at this time.

The investigation into the shooting

The investigation into Castile’s shooting is being handled by the Bureau of Criminal Apprehension, which is standard procedure.

Dayton said he doesn’t have a timetable for when the agency might finish its investigation (at which point the case will be given to the Ramsey County Attorney’s Office to consider possible charges for the officers involved), but he wants it to happen "as quickly as possible."

"The fact that they interviewd the law enforcement officers yesterday says they're moving as swiftly as they can," he added. But Dayton says he has no new information since Thursday.

As for why he wants a federal Department of Justice investigation? It’s their "additional expertise and perspective," and a way to reassure people who might be concerned about the Bureau of Criminal Apprehension – it's "somebody looking over their shoulder closely," Dayton said.

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