'Peace' Officers Surely Do Kill Often
By National Lawyers Guild - Minnesota Chapter:
The National Lawyers Guild - Minnesota Chapter unconditionally condemns in the strongest possible terms the murder of Philando Castile by St. Anthony Village police officer Jeronimo Yanez. The NLG expresses its deepest sympathy and condolences to Mr. Castile’s family and loved ones.
It is a tremendous outrage that the repeated unjustifiable police killings, especially of African American males, have become such common knowledge yet continue unabated. While no one deserves to die at the hands of law enforcement, there is no pretext for police to attempt to rationalize the murder of Mr. Castile because he had so clearly done nothing wrong, was an exemplary citizen, and the horrendous death and police indifference to the effects of their actions was so painfully captured on cell phone video.
The NLG demands that government leaders end their pattern of enforcing the continued deadly status quo by failing to take any concrete action to hold police accountable or enact any meaningful reforms. The salience of this latest atrocity must spur immediate action to hold the responsible police officer accountable and initiate systemic change to end the serial police killings as well as the larger dynamic of police abuse and oppression in communities of color. The NLG recognizes that the most affected communities must have a voice in the specific changes to made, but calls for the following actions to be taken immediately:
1. A special independent prosecutor must be appointed to investigate and bring criminal charges against the murderer in this case. The special prosecutor must be independent of police influence, and have access to funding needed to hire investigators, experts, associates and cover other expenses needed to conduct a full investigation and prosecution. Responses to previous police shootings have repeatedly and invariably demonstrated that elected and career prosecutors are too beholden to police interests to be capable to delivering justice. The Ramsey County Attorney, the governor, and other appropriate officials must collaborate to make the special independent prosecutor a reality.
2. The office of an independent prosecutor must be permanently established to investigate and prosecute cases of deadly force and other abusive police conduct.
3. Minnesota law must be amended so that police officers have no more authority to use deadly force than other citizens. Specifically, Minnesota Statute § 609.066 which authorizes use of deadly force by peace officers must be repealed.
4. A special civilian commission must be established to propose specific, comprehensive and systemic reforms to police powers, policies, and governance. A majority of the commission must include representatives of communities disproportionately harmed by police abuse.