Diamond Reynolds had to watch her boyfriend, Philando Castile, die after being shot by a police officer when they were pulled over for a broken taillight.
Reynolds calmly explains to her phone, over a Facebook Live post, that her boyfriend has been shot by an officer when he tried to produce his identification for the officer. Viewers can see Philando Castile beside her, eyes wide open, shirt bloodied, in some of his last moments on earth.
Diamond Reynold’s 4-year-old daughter remained out of sight in the backseat of the car while the horrific scene unfolded.
While a police officer, later identified as Jeronimo Yanez, held a gun on the dying man, he can be heard yelling in a panicky voice, “I told him not to reach for it! I told him to get his hands up!”
Diamond Reynolds, however, remained calm throughout the incident. In her pleas to God and to the officer who just shot her boyfriend, she remained unwavering, collected, and steady.
“Please don’t tell me this Lord, please Jesus don’t tell me that he’s gone. Please don’t tell me that he’s gone. Please, officer, don’t tell me you just did this to him. You shot four bullets into him, sir. He was just getting his license and registration sir.”
Many people wondered how Diamond Reynolds had the presence of mind to remain so calm and almost nonchalant while her boyfriend lay dying beside her. She did not speak to her boyfriend while he lay dying; in fact, she seems to think he was already dead while he was still alive. In the beginning of Diamond’s live stream, she states that the police “killed my boyfriend” while her boyfriend was obviously still alive. What was happening to Reynolds as the chaos ensued around her?
According to the Washington Post, Diamond Reynolds was likely in a dissociative state. It’s a way that a person can separate from feelings, thoughts, or even one’s sense of identity in certain situations.
Jim Hopper, a psychology instructor at Harvard Medical School, said, “People are literally not feeling in their body what’s going on,” Hopper said. “That circuitry can basically shut down. This is the brain on horror.”
The way in which Diamond repeats certain phrases and focuses on getting the message out through the phone may have gotten her through the tragedy unfolding right before her.
Reynolds believes that she was able to remain focused and level-headed because she had her daughter depending on her to stay strong.
“My daughter told me stay strong, and that’s what I had to do,” Diamond Reynolds said. “My daughter told me, ‘Don’t cry,’ and that’s what I had to do. My daughter prayed for me.”
Alternet reports Reynolds’ may have been able to stay in control because of an intense fear of the police. Monnica Williams, director of the Center for Mental Health Disparities at the University of Louisville and an expert on the brain, said as much.
Williams said, “This becomes something that you might even expect. All you have to do is turn on the television and see another black man has been shot.”
Dafina Doty, Reynolds’s mother, said she taught Diamond to treat authorities with respect no matter what the circumstances.
“Being able to stay calm in a crisis—you preserve your life and protect your loved ones,” Williams stated.
Reynolds did break down during her live stream. It began to sound like she might be panicking when her phone was taken out of her hands and she was placed in handcuffs. She could not be seen at that time.
In another part of the stream, Diamond Reynolds broke down briefly when she was in the back of a police car with her daughter. She lets out a scream in the midst of a sentence, and her daughter can be heard trying to comfort her, saying, “It’s okay, I’m right here with you.”
It can be easy for any person to say how he or she might react in an intense situation like the one in which Diamond Reynolds found herself, but the reality is that no one has any idea how each brain and body would react.
[Photo by AP Photo/Jim Mone]