BCA gives Philando Castile case to Ramsey County attorney
ST. PAUL -- The investigation into the shooting death of Philando Castile by a St. Anthony police officer has been turned over to prosecutors. The Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension announced Wednesday morning that it turned over its findi...
ST. PAUL -- The investigation into the shooting death of Philando Castile by a St. Anthony police officer has been turned over to prosecutors.
The Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension announced Wednesday morning that it turned over its findings to the Ramsey County attorney’s office for review.
The state agency handled the investigation into the July 6 death that set off protests across the Twin Cities when its aftermath was recorded on a Facebook live-stream.
The BCA referred further questions to the prosecutor’s office.
Any charging decisions won’t come quickly. County Attorney John Choi wouldn’t provide a timeline.
“Our office will work as efficiently as possible, while ensuring we conduct a diligent and thorough prosecution review,” Choi said in a prepared statement. Hennepin County prosecutors’ review of the police shooting of Jamar Clark took seven weeks, Choi’s office noted.
Choi is seeking advisement from national use-of-force consultants in his office’s review of the Castile case. He also expects to seek further information from BCA investigators, “as is typical in these types of cases,” Choi’s office said.
Choi says he met with Castile’s family Aug. 2 and spelled out the process his agency will use.
The county attorney’s office has posted an information page on the case on its website.
As is standard in police-involved shootings, the BCA investigated the shooting.
The agency interviewed potential witnesses and collected data on the incident.
Choi still has not decided whether to present the case to a grand jury or decide himself whether to pursue charges against the officers involved in Castile’s fatal shooting. In recent cases, Choi has detailed findings to the public upon his decision.
Earlier this year, Hennepin County authorities declined to bring charges against two Minneapolis officers involved in the November fatal shooting of Clark, who also was black, saying there was not enough evidence. That case also ignited a series of protests and rallies.
Immediately after the Castile shooting, Diamond Reynolds, Castile’s girlfriend, live-streamed her account of the incident on Facebook. The video showed Castile blood-soaked and moaning in the driver’s seat. Reynolds said they were pulled over in Falcon Heights for a broken tail light.
The video was viewed more than 4 million times on Facebook the next day.
Following the Castile shooting, Choi appointed Don Lewis, a Minneapolis attorney with connections to St. Paul’s Rondo neighborhood, to serve as a special prosecutor on the case and aid him in consideration of charges against the officer. Formerly the dean of Hamline University’s law school as well as a federal prosecutor, Lewis now works with the law firm Nilan Johnson Lewis.
Choi said Lewis would bring “fresh eyes and independent perspective” as his office decides whether St. Anthony police officer Jeronimo Yanez will face prosecution for shooting Castile. Yanez is on leave from the St. Anthony Police Department.
Meanwhile, federal officials are monitoring the BCA’s investigation and Department of Justice officials have indicated they would provide assistance as needed. Federal officials have said they were prepared to do further investigation of their own, if necessary.
In August, Castile’s family asked for a federal investigation into the case.
The family has retained former TV judge Glenda Hatchett, who now runs a wrongful-death legal firm in Atlanta, to represent them. Hatchett said she intended to pursue litigation without relying on the BCA’s investigation and has not specified who the family would sue.