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Ramsey County deputies assigned to US Marshals task force will now be required to use body cameras

The change to policy comes amid increased scrutiny following the law enforcement shooting of Winston Smith.

Members of the Ramsey County Attorney's Office who serve on the U.S. Marshals North Star Fugitive Task Force will now be allowed to use body cameras while assigned to the task force.

Ramsey County Sheriff Bob Fletcher signed an addendum Sunday modifying the agreement the department has had with the task force since 2014, his office announced Monday. The original agreement barred local law enforcement from using body cameras while assigned to the Marshals task force, according to the sheriff's office.

With this addendum signed, Fletcher will now require any Ramsey County deputy assigned to the U.S. Marshals task force to wear and use a body camera.

The move comes amid scrutiny following the fatal law enforcement shooting of Winston Boogie Smith. The 32-year-old was shot and killed on top of a Minneapolis parking garage on June 3 as members of the task force were trying to arrest him. The Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension (BCA) said two deputies - one from the Ramsey County Sheriff's Office, the other from the Hennepin County Sheriff's Office - fired shots in the incident.

Related: BCA: 2 deputies shot at Winston Smith, no bodycam footage available

Smith died from multiple gunshot wounds. The BCA said evidence suggests Smith fired a gun himself from inside the vehicle.

However, no body cam footage of the shooting exists, the BCA added, explaining the U.S. Marshals Service prohibited members of the North Star Fugitive Task Force from utilizing body cameras. 

But over the weekend, the U.S. Attorney's Office for the District of Minnesota put out a statement suggesting the situation wasn't that straightforward. It said the Department of Justice (DOJ) began permitting task force officers to wear body cameras in October 2020, and that the U.S. Marshals Service began phasing in body cameras in February of this year.

This phasing in "continues to be implemented in the District of Minnesota," the U.S. Attorney's Office said.

Bring Me The News has reached out to the Hennepin County Sheriff's Office and BCA (whose special agents are sometimes assigned to the North Star Task Force) about any conversations they have had regarding body camera usage for those assigned to the task force.

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