The most surprising aspect of Ramsey County, Minn., prosecutor John Choi’s decision to charge a police officer with second-degree manslaughter in the controversial shooting of Philando Castile is that he decided to forgo a grand jury in such a case, says St. Paul Pioneer Press columnist Ruben Rosario. He has long been and still is a supporter of the grand jury process. But not for this case. That would have been the safest, Pontius Pilate-type route, given the blowback his counterpart across the river, Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman, experienced after he decided to skip the grand jury and determine that the Minneapolis police officers involved in the fatal shooting of Jamar Clark a year ago this week would face no criminal charges.
Choi decided to shrug off advance criticism and go with the facts uncovered in the months-long probe and with his conscience. There are folks who are applauding his decision. There are folks who think he caved in to identity politics. And so? That’s the way of the world, then and now and seemingly forever. Yanez, a four-year police veteran, is now the first cop in Minnesota in at least 16 years to be criminally charged in a fatal officer-involved shooting. Yanez will appear in court on Friday and is expected to plead not guilty in the July shooting during a traffic stop. The best thing about Choi’s action here is that this incident will be aired and litigated in open court, something a grand jury process would not have done in this state, Rosario wrote.