Philando Castile shooting: What police documents and data are public?


Minnesota law lays out what types of data and documents the public has access to after a police incident – and what is protected, or considered "nonpublic."

In the wake of a high-profile incident, like the fatal police shooting of Philando Castile, that data becomes even more sought after.

A lot of times though, people or groups don't get to read or see exactly what they want, when they want. And there are actually laws that determine which data is open to everyone – public data – and which data is not.

Here's a look at what types of information is considered public in the days after an incident like the Castile shooting.

What the law says

Rules about what government data is considered public, and what's considered nonpublic, are described in the Government Data Practices act. Law enforcement is specifically addressed in Minnesota statute 13.82.

So for example, Subdivision 2 goes over arrest data. As the law says, information such as when and where the arrest occurred, which agencies and officers responded, the "legal basis" for the action, and whether things like wiretaps or license plate readers were used are all public (with a few exceptions for investigations).

Jump down to subdivision 6, it says "response or incident data" that documents the agency's response to a call is public. That includes: Where and when the incident happened, which agencies and officers responded, names and addresses of witnesses (unless protected for certain reasons), a "factual reconstruction" of what led up to the incident, and more.

So in the Castile case, one thing that hasn't been publicly commented on by police is why Castile's vehicle was pulled over. His girlfriend, Diamond Reynolds, said they were told it was because of a broken tail light, which police haven't confirmed.

There's also scanner dispatch audio first published by KARE 11 that says Castile resembled a robbery suspect. But the city, while releasing documents, said it can't confirm or deny whether that audio is accurate.

The Bureau of Criminal Apprehension provided a factual reconstruction the day after the shooting, but it does not give the reason for the traffic stop.

Booking photos are also public when someone has been arrested. As is any electronic data – audio, video, photos, etc. – that was gathered by law enforcement during the incident. However, again, there are some exceptions.

What's been revealed in the Philando Castile incident

BringMeTheNews/GoMedia submitted a Freedom of Information Act request to St. Anthony Police for the public data. We'll be compiling every document we receive over on this page.

At this point, there is only one document directly from the night Castile was shot – an incident report that explains who responded to the scene, items recovered there, and who was involved.

Witness accounts are redacted at this time, and it does not explain the reason Castile was stopped.

The city has said it's gotten a lot of requests, and so will be releasing the documents and data on a rolling basis to everyone who asked, as it determines what is public. The city said if it finds it does not have data for a specific request, it'll acknowledge that.

So for example, bodycam video does not exist.

What about dashcam video?

The city says that squad car dashcam video from the Castile incident been turned over to the Bureau of Criminal Apprehension as part of the investigation.

While dashcam video is listed as public under Minnesota statute 13.82, there's an exception for "criminal investigative data."

Basically, anything outside of arrest data, (subd. 2), request for service data (subd. 3) and response or incident data (subd. 6) can be considered "confidential or protected nonpublic" while the investigation is active.

The Bureau of Criminal Apprehension's investigation is ongoing, and dashcam video does not fall under those three exceptions – it's under subd. 31, which is "use of surveillance technology," as a spokesperson for the agency explained to BringMeTheNews.

But all public information, including video evidence, will be made public once the investigation is complete, the spokesperson said.

Next Up

Andrew Wiggins

Andrew Wiggins applies for exemption to COVID vaccine, is rejected

Wiggins could miss a large chunk of the season without the vaccine.

CJ Ham

Vikings-Seahawks: 5 things you can count on happening

Can the Vikings finally beat Russell Wilson?

Flickr - police lights squad siren - Edward Kimmel

Residents asked to be on the lookout for at-large suspect in Sauk Rapids

The suspect was last seen near the intersection of Garden Brook Drive Northeast and Strawberry Court Northeast.

Towerside Innovation District

Aquifer energy storage project wins financial backing of Mpls city council

It'll be used to power the Towerside Innovation District near the U of M.

Screen Shot 2021-09-25 at 10.02.45 AM

Bomb threat prompts school evacuation in central Minnesota

A search of the building did not find any suspicious items.

Pexels - beer outside patio brewery

Brewery, taproom moving into former Twin Cities newspaper space

Loons Landing officially signed the lease this week.

Vic Richfield auto theft PD - rectangle crop

Police: Car with dog inside stolen from outside Twin Cities liquor store

They're asking people to be on the lookout for the vehicle.

John Hofer - Chisago County Sheriff's Office

Murder charge filed over inmate's death at Chisago Co. Jail

The man suddenly became unresponsive and died while in a holding cell.

reproductive rights caucus

Minnesota DFL lawmakers form Reproductive Freedom Caucus

The move comes as some Republicans explore proposals to limit abortion access.