ST. PAUL, Minn. - Philando Castile, a 32-year-old black man who was shot and killed by police Wednesday night, would be alive if he were white, according to Gov. Mark Dayton.

At a press conference Thursday afternoon, Dayton asked and answered the question at the center of the fatal Falcon Heights shooting.

"Would this have happened if ... the driver and passenger were white?" he asked. "I don't think it would've. So I'm forced to confront and I think all of us in Minnesota are forced to confront that this kind of racism exists."

Dayton called the shooting "appalling on all levels," criticizing the treatment of Castile's girlfriend Diamond Reynolds, who posted a live video on her Facebook page after shots were fired.

He said no one deserves to die during a traffic stop for a tail light.

"I can't say how seriously I take this," he said. "I can't say how shocked I am and how deeply, deeply offended I am that something like this would occur in Minnesota."

Earlier Thursday, Dayton appeared in front of a crowd of protesters outside his residence, promising change and justice in the wake of Castile's death.

Protesters stayed outside the Govenor's Mansion overnight, calling for him to make a statement and prosecute the officers involved in the fatal shooting.

"My deepest condolences go out to the family and friends and on behalf of all decent-minded Minnesotans, which are almost all of us in the state, were shocked and horrified by what occurred last night," he said. "A horrible, horrible tragedy, a senseless tragedy, and one that I commit as chief executive of the state of Minnesota, I will do everything in my power to see it's investigated by both the state and local authorities."

Gov. Dayton addresses protesters outside his residence.
Gov. Dayton addresses protesters outside his residence.

Dayton said he reached out to President Obama's Chief of Staff Denis McDonough Thursday morning to request the attorney general and the head of the civil rights division launch their own investigations.

"He knew of the situation, he was shocked and concerned as well," he said. "I'm going to urge them to come in as soon as possible."

Dayton said he will do everything in his power to see that this matter is brought to justice.

"I agree that this kind of behavior is unacceptable," he said. "It's not the norm in Minnesota."

He concluded his speech saying, "Justice will be served in Minnesota. Justice will be served in Minnesota."

Protesters briefly interrupted Dayton's statements, chanting "Black Lives Matter" and questioning how he was going to ensure justice is served "this time."