MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — An unlikely partnership could help reduce, and hopefully prevent, shooting deaths by police.
For the first time, families with loved ones that were shot and killed by police teamed up with Twin Cities prosecutors to create a guide for law enforcement.
Ramsey County Attorney John Choi led a group of Minnesotans in a year-long effort to create the toolkit. It will be shared with prosecutors and police across the country.
Eric Garner, Sean Bell and Philando Castile all died at the hands of police.
“We have had enough,” said Valerie Castile, Philando’s mother.
She joined the prosecutor in her son’s case, John Choi, and other victim’s families over the last year to produce a guide to help police reduce or prevent police involved killings.
“A tool for prosecutors for across the country to look at kind of their practices during a critical incident involving a fatality, or when someone is seriously injured,” Choi said.
This toolkit includes flow charts and check lists that spell out what should be done before an officer-involved incident, like creating an independent investigative unit that only works on critical cases, and establishing protocol, time frame and standards.
Choi says victims’ families complained about a lack of communication with prosecutors.
“Letting the families know how the case is going, or where they’re at in the process,” said Clarence Castile, Philando’s uncle. “Possibly just giving us the impression that you care about us.”
Castile says that was not the case here in Minnesota. Actually. Minnesota’s approach is highlighted in the toolkit. Ramsey and Hennepin counties both release data and video connected to critical incidents to foster transparency and trust.
“Here in St. Paul we’re doing a deep dive on data,” said Mayor Melvin Carter. “We want to know who are we pulling over and at what rates where in the city and for what, and what are the trends that we can see, because if we can identify trends, then we can intervene on those trends.”
“We need law enforcement in this country regardless, you know, but we just need them to be a little bit more accountable and to be more thorough in their processes in what they do,” Clarence said.
Valerie and Clarence Castile both believe the toolkit’s main mission is to have police and prosecutors listen more to the community to help ensure justice.
Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman and Department of Corrections Commissioner Paul Schnell also helped work on the toolkit. It was rolled out nationally this week.