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Police shot a mentally ill Native American man, and surveillance video contradicts their account

Police say the investigation into Paul Castaway’s death is ongoing.


Dell Cameron


Denver police are struggling to defend themselves after the killing of a 35-year-old Native American man.

Paul Castaway was fatally shot during an encounter with police on Sunday in which, according to police officials, he ran at two officers armed with a knife. However, eyewitnesses at the mobile-home park where the incident occurred contradicted the police account and alleged instead that Castaway was holding the knife to his own neck.

“They love to kill people of color here.”

Now, a surveillance video reviewed by a local reporter appears to back up those witnesses.

“It shows [Castaway] coming up from behind a white mobile home, through a black iron fence onto the street and around a wooden fence, which is a dead end,” writes Tammy Vigil, the KDVR reporter who viewed the recording. “He then turned back around onto the street with a knife to his neck the whole time, when an officer shoots him.”

“The video,” she wrote, “seems to not match what police say happened.”

Castaway was taken to Denver Health Medical Center in critical condition. He died at the hospital.

Police Chief Robert White said at a news conference after the shooting that investigators believed Castaway had stabbed his mother in the neck before he was killed. Her injuries were non-life threatening, police said.

Castaway’s mother, Lynn Eagle Feather, who is a Sicangu Lakota, told reporters that she dialed 9-1-1 after her son threatened her with the knife and that she told notified police her son was mentally ill.

“There was no need to shoot my son four times at close range like that,” Eagle Feather said in an interview. “I want justice for my son. I want those cops to be reprimanded. These Denver cops love to kill Natives. They love to kill people of color here.”

Police say that they have received a copy of the surveillance video. The investigation into Castaway’s death is ongoing.

Photo via Alan Levine/Flickr (CC BY 2.0)

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