Prosecutor Says That Philando Castile Investigation Is Top Priority, Considers Not Taking Minnesota Shooting Before Grand Jury

On Friday morning, a prosecutor from Minnesota made a statement regarding the investigation into the fatal police shooting of Philando Castile, saying that it is a top priority and calling for a “prompt and thorough investigation” into the death of the black man who was shot after being pulled over for a broken taillight. Castile’s girlfriend live streamed the aftermath of the gruesome shooting in the St. Paul suburb on Facebook.

John Choi, Prosecutor for Ramsey County, stated that the video which was taken during the aftermath of the shooting of Philando Castille on Wednesday night would officially become a part of the ongoing investigation. In the video, the school cafeteria supervisor can be seen shot and bleeding while an officer points a gun at him and his girlfriend, Diamond Reynolds, advises watchers that the man was simply reaching for his wallet when he was shot. Castile had apparently told the officer moments before that he was licensed to carry a gun before being shot for “no apparent reason.”

Choi also said on Friday that the decision about whether to use a grand jury during the case, as is tradition, or decide himself if charges should be brought forth in the officer-involved shooting death of Philando Castile in Falcon Heights, Minnesota. The attorney went on to say that should a grand jury decide that charges are warranted against the St. Anthony Police officer identified as Jeronimo Yanez, “we will prosecute this case to fullest extent of the law.” The Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension was responsible for identifying Yanez, and it is to them that Choi is now looking for the “prompt but thorough investigation,” acknowledging that these might seem like conflicting requests, but the investigation is a top priority.

According to Mercury News, Choi said that once the findings of the investigation are presented to his office, he will then determine whether or not a grand jury hearing should be conducted.

Regarding the possible exclusion of a grand jury in this case by the prosecutor, Fox 9 News reminded us of the last case in which this occurred, when Hennepin County Attorney Freeman ran the investigation into the shooting death of Jamar Clark by Minneapolis police. Freeman had said his decision stemmed from the fact that grand juries “may no longer serve the present evolving standards of justice, accountability and transparency” and then he concluded that in Clark’s case, no charges should be filed against the responsible officer.

Ramsey County Prosecutor Choi has said that the Philando Castile shooting highlights the need for better interactions between the police and the people they are sworn to protect, especially in light of the killings of black individuals. Castile’s death comes only one day after the equally controversial officer-involved shooting death of Alton Sterling, another black man whose life was taken.

“We must do better in our state and in our nation to improve police-community interactions to ensure the safety of everyone in this country, but particularly the safety of African Americans, who disproportionately lose their lives as a result.”

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Prosecutor Choi has declined any personal comments on the investigation as it is an ongoing investigation, mainly mentioning that its resolution is top priority. The Police Department has also refused to release any details about the investigation into the officer-involved shooting death of Philando Castile while his girlfriend and her young daughter were in the car. The police have made it clear that there will be no official statements about what led to the family being pulled over or why officer Yanez drew his gun and opened fire into the vehicle. Choi has spoken out about the video, however, saying that “what is depicted in the video, it just makes you sad to watch all of that unfold.”

During the press conference that prosecutor Choi had, he took the time to call for peace between the police and the citizens, bringing up the tragic shooting deaths of the five Dallas police officers on Thursday night.

“I want to issue a call to our nation for peace. There is no justification for what happened last night in Dallas. As one of our nation’s heroes, Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King said: ‘Violence multiplies violence. Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.'”

Thousands have protested against the shooting of Philando Castile.

[Photo by Jim Mone/ AP Images]