Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman on Wednesday announced support for releasing video of officer-involved shootings "as soon as possible," among other changes to how the state should handle such investigations.
He issued a list of recommendations after presenting them over the weekend to a new working group that is expected to propose policy changes by February.
Activists said he didn't push hard enough on some of them and said they've called for similar changes for years.
"This is long overdue," said Michelle Gross, president of Communities United Against Police Brutality. "We keep bringing these things up and everyone says, 'Oh, those are interesting ideas.' And everything just ends up going into the vapors."
Freeman's recommendations include: releasing videos no later than 45 days after a shooting, re-examining state law that gives officers broad discretion to use deadly force and requiring county attorneys to decide if criminal charges are merited.
"We share these remarks with a profound commitment to deal fairly, transparently and as professionally as we can on each case," Freeman said in a written statement Wednesday.
Gross' group demanded releasing videos within 48 hours. Activist Monique Cullars-Doty, the aunt of Marcus Golden, who was killed by St. Paul police in 2015, called for release within 12 hours.
"It's all posturing," Cullars-Doty said of Freeman's recommendations.
Drew Evans, superintendent of the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension (BCA), which investigates officer-involved shootings, said his agency is committed to releasing evidence after a case is closed with a conviction, acquittal or decision not to file charges. All typically take much longer than 45 days.
"The BCA has no position regarding whether or when other law enforcement entities release video," Evans said in a written statement. "However, the BCA advises that once video is released, the BCA cannot ensure the integrity of statements provided by witnesses who come forward after that release."
When asked if he would consider forming a new agency to investigate such shootings, Freeman said he was open to discussing it. Gross and Cullars-Doty support the idea.
Public Safety Commissioner John Harrington and Attorney General Keith Ellison announced formation of the working group after former Minneapolis police officer Mohamed Noor's murder conviction for the 2017 fatal shooting of Justine Ruszczyk Damond.
Freeman's office openly criticized the BCA for several alleged missteps in its investigation of Damond's death.
Activists and Freeman clashed on another point: Activists demanded reopening all shooting investigations going back 10 years. Freeman opposed the idea, saying only new, credible evidence should prompt such a move.
Gross and Cullars-Doty contended that the issues with the BCA in Noor's case were likely more common than they were an aberration.
Activists also voiced concerns that the working group does not include representatives from the Hmong, Latino and Somali communities; advocates for the homeless and mentally ill; or community activists.
The group's final two public meetings are scheduled for Sept. 28 at Minnesota State University, Mankato, and Oct. 17 at a location not yet named.
Chao Xiong • 612-270-4708 Twitter: @ChaoStrib