ACLU sues for dash-cam video in Castile shooting

ST. PAUL -- The American Civil Liberties Union has filed suit to attain any police dash-camera video pertaining to the Philando Castile fatal shooting.

ST. PAUL -- The American Civil Liberties Union has filed suit to attain any police dash-camera video pertaining to the Philando Castile fatal shooting.

The suit was filed in Ramsey County District Court against the city of St. Anthony, as well as the state Department of Public Safety and one of its subsidiaries, the Bureau of Criminal Apprehension, which has possession of the video.

“Squad camera video is presumed to be public data. The video from the Castile shooting should have been released immediately,” stated Charles Samuelson, executive director of ACLU of Minnesota. “It’s troubling that under the circumstances of the Castile shooting, this otherwise public data is being purposefully withheld.”

Requests for comment from the Bureau of Criminal Apprehension were referred to the Department of Public Safety.

DPS spokesman Doug Neville said he was “unable to comment on pending litigation.” An attorney representing the city of St. Anthony did not immediately return a call for comment.


On July 6, St. Anthony officer Jeronimo Yanez fatally shot Castile, 32, during a traffic stop on Larpenteur Avenue in Falcon Heights. Castile’s girlfriend, Diamond Reynolds, live-streamed the immediate aftermath on Facebook, and the incident spurred protests nationwide.

Castile’s family is not involved in the suit. Yanez is employed by the city of St. Anthony, which patrols several cities, including Falcon Heights.

The Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension took over the investigation of the shooting and will submit its findings to Ramsey County attorney John Choi. No timeline for the investigation has been released.

The suit asks for the release of the videos under Minnesota’s data practices act, “because the benefit to the public from release of the videos greatly outweighs any potential harm to the public, to the BCA, and to the individuals captured on the videos.”

A portion of the state’s data practices act states that during a criminal investigation, anyone may ask a court to release police data and to “consider whether the benefit to the person bringing the action or to the public outweighs any harm to the public, to the agency or to any person identified in the data.”

The data practices act also states that “arrest data,” or “data created or collected by law enforcement agencies which document any actions taken by them to cite, arrest, incarcerate or otherwise substantially deprive an adult individual of liberty” shall be “public at all times,” without a court decree.

The ACLU is arguing that dash-camera video is arrest data.

“Anytime they are stopping somebody and depriving them of their ability to walk away, they are depriving them of liberty,” ACLU-MN legal director Teresa Nelson said Thursday.


The act also states that “investigatory data” - data used to prepare a case against someone - can be withheld. But the act said “arrest data” could not be withheld as investigatory data.

St. Anthony has previously stated that it would not release the video because it’s considered “investigatory data.”

The suit also noted that “just in the past few months, municipalities and police offices around the country have released videos of police shootings within weeks of the incident,” citing examples in Houston, Washington, D.C., and Fresno, Calif.

The ACLU filed a similar suit in February to obtain video captured of the fatal police shooting of Jamar Clark in November, according to Nelson.

The main difference between the Clark and Castile cases, Nelson said, is that the ACLU has now also named a local agency - the city of St. Anthony - as a defendant.

“One of the things the BCA argued in the other case was that the local agency is the one that should have been sued as opposed to them, so we are rectifying that (this time around) and naming both the city and the BCA,” Nelson said. “We believe both of them have the responsibility to release the data under the act.”

No judge ended up weighing in on the Jamar Clark suit because Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman ended up making his decision not to press charges against the officer involved in the case shortly after the ACLU’s lawsuit was filed.

At that time, all of the investigative data, including the video footage, became public.


One of Castile’s family members said Thursday that his body has been transported to St. Louis, where it will be buried Saturday in Calvary Cemetery alongside his grandmother, aunt and uncle.

“It’s good that he will finally have a final resting place,” Clarence Castile said. “The past two months he’s been lying in wait and now we have a chance to put him to rest and say goodbye and give his body back to the earth.”

What To Read Next
“Let’s put this in the rearview mirror,” Sen. Michael Diedrich, a Rapid City Republican said.
A resolution looking to allow the legislature to consider work requirements on the newly expanded Medicaid program is one step closer to the 2024 ballot.
Navigator CO2 Ventures is hoping to streamline the application process in Illinois as they add an additional pipeline to the mix.
The North Dakota Highway Patrol is investigating the Wednesday, Jan. 25, crash.