Diamond Reynolds tries to get a fresh start

We haven’t heard a lot about Diamond Reynolds since the morning in July when she provided live video of the death of her boyfriend, Philando Castile, shot to death by police in Falcon Heights.

The Washington Post today provides a glimpse into her life since the shooting.

She and her young daughter have been trying to move out of the apartment she and Castile shared. But when she inspected it, the place sounded almost as bad as the place she desperately wanted to leave, the Post says.

But it’s the section about another person who was in the car when Castile was killed that is the most compelling — Dae’Anna, the four-year-old girl.

They had barely discussed the shooting since that day — not with each other and not with a professional — and Diamond thought maybe that was for the best. But she had gone back over her Facebook video in an attempt to understand exactly what Dae’Anna had witnessed from the back seat, expecting to be unnerved by her daughter’s screams. Instead, for the first four minutes of video, Dae’Anna had said nothing, and so Diamond began to wonder: How was that possible? How could anyone, much less a 4-year-old, keep quiet during those four minutes? The force of four bullets fired from point-blank range shook the car, and Dae’Anna was quiet. Castile rolled his head back between the seats and gasped, “I can’t breathe,” and Dae’Anna was quiet. The officer screamed, “Keep your hands where they are!” and she was quiet. The gun, still aimed inside the car, began to shake in the officer’s hand, and she was quiet. Diamond said, “Please don’t tell me he’s dead,” and she was quiet. Castile gripped his bleeding stomach, moaned, slid back between the seats and dropped his head right toward Dae’Anna’s lap, and she was quiet.

Diamond had taught her daughter to react that way. They had been practicing what Diamond called “survival skills” since before her daughter turned 2. Duck at the sound of gunfire. Make yourself small whenever you feel threatened. Never touch guns or needles. The more scared you are, the less noise you should make. These were some of the lessons Diamond had passed along from one generation to the next, and her daughter had learned them well. “It’s okay, Mommy. I’m right here with you,” Dae’Anna had said that day, as they sat together in the back of the police car and the video continued, and Diamond was still trying to understand why that was the one sentence in 10 minutes of archived terror that always made her catch her breath.

“Candles, glitter sticks, lipstick, carnival games, temporary tattoos, face paint,” Diamond said, reading her way down the list.

Dae’Anna had brought up Castile’s name only a few times since the shooting — to ask what had happened to his car or to say that she missed him. Diamond thought Dae’Anna understood he was dead. But mostly she looked happy playing with the toys that strangers kept sending her in the mail: princess outfits, angel statues, Legos and action figures. Once, a few weeks after Castile’s death, Diamond had overheard Dae’Anna playing with the action figures and saying something to them about how policemen shoot to kill. She had thought about going in to explain what it meant to be poor and black in Minnesota, but how could she tell a 4-year-old a story with no moral and no solution — a story with no apparent end? Maybe Dae’Anna was too young to understand, or maybe she already understood well enough. Either way, Diamond had left her alone to play.

Diamond wanted a new start by moving out of their apartment. She finally moved into a new one, a two-bedroom unit in St. Paul. When she moved in, it was in deplorable shape.

A maintenance worker apologized, blaming it on trying to keep up with complaints about a tenant down the hall, an apparent drug dealer.

“This is what I was trying to get away from,” she said.

  • Lobd

    She lives a life so different than mine, and it makes me so upset for her. She is in my city, and she should be able to find a decent apartment. And her daughter did well, but how heartbreaking to need to teach those skills. This story moves me.

  • crystals

    After the first two posts of today I need to go spend some time in Friday’s Theft of the Blog. What some of our children are living through is almost too much to bear. I hope we as a society are ready to support them with the resources, compassion, and justice they deserve.

  • DJK

    Ms. Reynolds is stronger than I can imagine, and than she should have to be. I understand from the Post article that she’s put aside the online funds raised for her daughter. If she or a friend set up another one as a result of this article, I and I’m sure others would be happy to contribute to help her through this transition, contribute to Dae’Anna’s 5th birthday party, something..

    • Curious

      So who is receiving the funds from the numerous GOFUNDME pages?

      • DJK

        I’m just going on the WaPo article cited in this blog; I didn’t know that there were other pages set up.

  • Kaytee

    Too bad someone doesn’t donate some counseling sessions to mother and daughter.