St. Paul, Minn - The American Civil Liberties Union of Minnesota filed a lawsuit today against the City of St. Anthony Village, Minnesota's Bureau of Criminal Apprehension and the Minnesota Department of Public Safety to force the release of all squad camera video(s) documenting the police killing of Philando Castile. St. Anthony Village police shot and killed Philando Castile, an African American man, in July 2016. The ACLU-MN argues in its complaint that the public has a right to access this footage and the Defendants' refusal to release it violates the Minnesota Government Data Practices Act.
"Squad camera video is presumed to be public data. The video from the Castile shooting should have been released immediately. However, the ACLU-MN and others who have asked for the videos have been denied," stated Charles Samuelson, ACLU-MN. "It's troubling that under the circumstances of the Castile shooting, this otherwise public data is being purposefully withheld."
In its complaint, the ACLU-MN cites the Minnesota Government Data Practices Act, which expressly provides that data documenting law enforcement actions to "cite, arrest, incarcerate or otherwise substantially deprive an adult individual of liberty shall be public at all times." Minn. Stat. § 13.82, subd. 2 (emphasis added).
The Defendants have kept this video private, claiming that it constitutes "criminal investigative data." However, Minn. Stat. § 13.82, subd. 2 expressly states that Arrest Data is not subject to the statute governing criminal investigative data. Moreover, even if the videos are criminal investigative data, the ACLU argues that they should be released because the public benefit of disclosure outweighs any potential harm.
"Releasing the videos would not impede the Castile investigation, especially because the shooting occurred almost two months ago. Squad cam video is routinely released upon request in other jurisdictions, regardless of the status of the case. The Defendants have no legal basis to withhold the release of the videos," stated Haley Schaffer of Maslon LLP.
Philando Castile's family is not affiliated with the case.
Cooperating attorneys in the case include Haley Schaffer, Melissa Muro LaMere, Erica Holzer and Jevon Bindman of Maslon LLP along with Teresa Nelson of the ACLU-MN.