This Thursday, the website Conservative Treehouse posted an article that purported to confirm a misleading claim making the rounds on various conservative Facebook groups, pages and comment threads — that Philando Castile was wanted for armed robbery at the time of his shooting death at the hands of a Minnesota police officer.
As the fact-checking website Snopes.com pointed out, Castile was not “wanted” or a “suspect” at any time.
From the Conservative Treehouse:
Confirmed – Philando Castile Was an Armed Robbery Suspect – False Media Narrative Now Driving Cop Killings…
The Falcon Heights, Minnesota police shooting of Philando Castile is based around an entirely false narrative. Castile and Ms. Diamond Reynolds (Facebook video uploader) were pulled over by police because Castile matched a BOLO Alert for an armed robbery suspect from four days prior.
Unfortunately, the false statements in the video — which have gone viral, and are being pushed by the mainstream media — have created a backlash against police officers.
According to Snopes, the claim that Castile was pulled over because he resembled an armed robbery suspect is based on information obtained by Minneapolis/St. Paul television station KARE, which shared police scanner audio where officers allegedly could be heard discussing the traffic stop.
“I’m going to stop a car,” the officer says on the recording. “I’m going to check IDs. I have reason to pull it over.”
“The two occupants just look like people that were involved in a robbery,” the officer says. “The driver looks more like one of our suspects, just because of the wide set nose,” the officer continues.
Although the KARE report noted that the audio was provided by a viewer and had not been authenticated by officials, the license plate number mentioned in the audio did match Castile’s car, and an alert had been issued about an armed robbery that occurred a few days before the shooting.
But while this audio may document that a police officer thought Castile might have resembled a person wanted for armed robbery, that didn’t mean he was a “suspect” in an armed robbery case or that he was “wanted” for armed robbery — at the time he was killed, nothing linked him to such a crime other than that an officer momentarily thought Castile might have looked a little like someone who had committed a robbery.
The Treehouse didn’t stop there. They tried to tie Castile to the crime.
In an image they shared with the article (see below), something they allege to be a gun can be seen on Castile’s hip, although many agree that the object is hardly identifiable. The website then falsely claimed that it was the very same weapon used in the armed robbery pictured on the right side of the image:
“This hand gun also appears to be the same type of hand gun used in the [convenience store armed robbery] four days earlier (7/2/16),” the Treehouse claimed.
As Snopes pointed out:
This is a far-fetched if not outright false claim. The object pictured on the left of the above-displayed image can hardly be identified as a gun, let alone a specific make and model of gun that can be matched to a blurry a picture of a robbery.
The web site also attempted to prove that Castile was involved in the armed robbery by connecting an image of Diamond Reynolds holding a carton of Newport cigarettes with a news story stating that an armed robber stole the same brand of cigarettes …
Obviously, the fact that Reynolds smokes the same brand of cigarettes that were stolen in a robbery is pure coincidence and proves nothing.
The Treehouse also falsely claimed that Castile did not have a concealed-carry permit, which he did. Police even later refuted the claim, sourcing a link that confirmed Castile was a licensed concealed-carrier.
The Conservative Treehouse article employed a series of half-truths, misleading claims, and unsupported speculation in an attempt to justify the fatal force used by an officer during a traffic stop in Minnesota. No real evidence has yet come to light supporting the notion that Castile had been involved in an armed robbery or was carrying a firearm illegally when he was killed.
Featured image: Facebook