Activists collect 7k signatures demanding 'truly independent' special prosecutor

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Activists continue to demand an independent special prosecutor investigate the Philando Castile case, saying that's the only way justice can be served.

Members of Neighborhoods Organizing for Change, the Minneapolis NAACP, and ACLU-Minnesota delivered a petition with 7,000 signatures to Ramsey County Attorney John Choi's office Monday, demanding a truly independent investigation, a news release says.

About 30 demonstrators went to his office Monday in an attempt to deliver the petition and meet with the county attorney personally, the Star Tribune reports. But county officials said Choi was busy.

Activists have been calling for an independent special prosecutor since Castile was fatally shot by St. Anthony police officer Jeronimo Yanez during a traffic stop July 6.

They say there is "unavoidable conflict of interest" when county attorneys, who work closely with police on a daily basis to prosecute other cases, weigh charges in officer-involved shootings. In fact, activists say since 2000, 148 people have been killed by police in Minnesota – none of the officers involved faced charges.

The demonstrations at Choi's office Monday came a few days after the county attorney attempted a compromise by hiring Don Lewis to be a special prosecutor who will work with Choi's office on the case.

The attorney for the Castile family called the move a "step in the right direction" and a "good middle ground."

But activists say that's not enough – and argue appointing Lewis doesn't make the investigation independent.

"The selection of Don Lewis as a so-called special prosecutor on this case is unacceptable and merely reinforces our lack of trust in the justice system," Nekima Levy-Pounds, the president of the Minneapolis NAACP said in the release.

Charles Samuelson, the executive director of the ACLU-Minnesota, says the prosecutor in the case should be "truly independent of Ramsey County or of any organization that works with law enforcement," and they are still asking that Gov. Mark Dayton appoint a special prosecutor for the case.

Tweets from Monday's demonstration

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