Investigation of Philando Castile killing presented to Ramsey County


Philando Castile

County attorney begins prosecution review

Nearly three months after Philando Castile was shot and killed by a police officer in Falcon Heights, the state Bureau of Criminal Apprehension presented it's investigation into the killing to the Ramsey County Attorney's Office.

A release from County Attorney John Choi's office announced the Sept. 28 presentation, and said Choi was beginning his prosecution review of the BCA investigation.

Castile, a 32-year-old African-American man, was killed July 6 during a traffic stop on Larpenteur Avenue by St. Anthony police officer Jeronimo Yanez. 

The killing sparked protests in Falcon Heights, St. Anthony and other metro cities, as part of a larger national protest movement against the continued killings of black people by police.

Choi said in a statement he is working with consultants from outside his office on his review.

"At this time, we are in the process of engaging national use-of-force consultants to assist in our prosecution review and evaluation of the BCA investigation," Choi said.

The county attorney also tempered expectations of a quick decision from his office.

"We cannot provide an estimated timeline for our work until we review the entire investigation file and meet with national use-of force consultants," Choi said, noting meetings with consultants could begin as soon as Sept. 29.

For context, Choi noted in his statement, following the police killing of Jamar Clark in Minneapolis, Hennepin County's prosecution review took seven weeks; Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman opted not to prosecute the officers involved in Clark's death.

Castile worked at J.J. Hill Montessori School in St. Paul as a nutrition service supervisor.

Castile's girlfriend, Diamond Reynolds, who was in the car with him during the shooting, along with her 4-year-old daughter, live-streamed video of the aftermath of the shooting on Facebook Live.

Following the shooting, Yanez was placed on paid administrative leave. He briefly returned to desk duty with the St. Anthony Police Department in August, drawing protests. The following week, he was put back on paid administrative leave.

Falcon Heights, which contracts for police service with St. Anthony, said in a Sept. 28 statement from City Administrator Sack Thongvanh, "The City stands ready to participate fully in the next steps of ensuring that justice is served and healing can continue."

The Falcon Heights City Council voted Sept. 21 to create a city task force that would examine policing in the city and recommend ways to improve it.

"This has been a tragic event for our entire community and something that challenges us all as we move forward," Thongvanh said. "The City of Falcon Heights is continuing to work with the community and others to look at issues related to the shooting and public safety.

"Our thoughts and prayers continue to be with the Castile family and others impacted by what has happened."

Choi said previously he would reserve the right to present the Castile case to a grand jury, or make the decision on whether to prosecute on his own.

Mike Munzenrider can be reached at mmunzenrider@lillienews.com or 651-748-7813. 

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