The American Civil Liberties Union of Minnesota today called on the Attorney General, the Governor and Ramsey County Attorney to appoint an independent prosecutor to handle the investigation and any prosecution that may result from the recent officer-involved shooting of Philando Castile in Falcon Heights. A letter was sent to the three elected officials outlining the reasons why this appointment is necessary.
Ramsey County Attorney John Choi would typically handle the investigation and prosecution. County attorneys throughout Minnesota work in a symbiotic way with their county's various law enforcement agencies. And given the intense public and media scrutiny that is sure to follow this case, appointing an independent prosecutor is warranted to ensure that justice is served.
"Sadly, Americans have seen way too many versions of this story play out in headlines around the country lately," said Chuck Samuelson, Executive Director of the ACLU-MN. "The people of Minnesota deserve to know the truth, and that is more likely to happen if an independent prosecutor is appointed to take an impartial look at the facts."
The ACLU believes existing Minnesota law contains the mechanisms necessary for the Governor to appoint a special assistant to oversee the case. Alternatively, County Attorney Choi can voluntarily ask the Attorney General's office to take over the investigation and prosecution. The ACLU is asking that a Special Assistant Attorney General be appointed by Attorney General Swanson or Governor Dayton, and be housed at the Attorney General's office.
"County Attorney Choi is a highly competent and ethical litigator," Samuelson said. "But given the intense pressures, both from within the law enforcement community where he works, and from a highly emotional public, it would be best for the entire community for this to be handled by a truly independent entity."