Updated: 4:38 p.m. | Posted: 3:11 p.m.
A Ramsey County District Court judge has denied a request to release squad camera video in the Philando Castile shooting to the public.
Judge William Leary disagreed Monday, ruling that the video is not public while there is an active investigation.
St. Anthony Police Officer Jeronimo Yanez faces second-degree manslaughter charges in the shooting death of Castile in July. A built-in camera in his police car captured the entire ordeal with audio.
The American Civil Liberties Union of Minnesota filed a civil suit in September against the state Bureau of Criminal Apprehension and the City of St. Anthony Village, alleging both violated state law by declining to release the footage. The two sides appeared in court Monday.
The ACLU cited the Comprehensive Law Enforcement section of the Minnesota Government Data Practices Act when arguing that the squad camera video is classified as arrest data and therefore should be released. Under the law, arrest data, includes basic incident information like date, time and place of an incident, resistance encountered by the agency, search warrants and whether weapons were fired.
Law enforcement agencies should disclose whether they used recordings "unless the release of this specific data would jeopardize an ongoing investigation," the law states.
The ACLU argued that withholding the video adds to public mistrust of government and a broken relationship between police and community. Attorney Haley Schaffer said withholding the data "undermines the presumption of transparency which are foundational in our democracy."
But Leary raised concerns about potential risks before releasing his ruling. He said releasing the video would contribute to an already heated public conversation about the shooting, which would hinder the court's ability to impanel a fair and impartial jury in Yanez's trial.
"Putting a burden on a fair trial doesn't make sense," said Leary, who's also been assigned the criminal case against Yanez. "It strikes me that the Legislature never intended that access to data should trump a person's constitutional right to a criminal prosecution."
Representatives from the BCA handed Leary an external hard drive of the squad video to watch before making a decision.
The main argument made by attorneys for the City of St. Anthony Village and the BCA was that the video should be protected under the active criminal investigation proceedings section of the data practices act. They also said the video and audio contain other data protected under the law, including a minor child and witness statements.
Jessica Schwie, attorney for St. Anthony, said those individuals have "superior interest."
"We look at the sentiment of the criminal defendant, the victim and the witnesses," she said.
Experts say it's tricky to determine which side is correctly interpreting the intent of the law. The law was originally written in 1979 and doesn't specifically spell out the classification of squad camera video.
Don Gemberling, a retired attorney and one of the original drafters of the data practices act, said the statute already gives law enforcement agencies discretion to release data in many other situations.
"When the police want to release this stuff, they don't care if it affects a fair trial," he said. "They release it. What's the remedy for that?"
The Associated Press contributed to this report.