Local sheriffs end work with U.S. Marshals unit over bodycam policy

A man in a brown jacket and a mask walks down a line of people.
Hennepin County Sheriff Dave Hutchinson, pictured here in Minneapolis on April 23, 2020, and Anoka County Sheriff James Stuart have joined Ramsey County Sheriff Bob Fletcher in saying they're suspending work by their deputies with the U.S. Marshals Service’s North Star Fugitive Task Force. 
Evan Frost | MPR News 2020

Updated: 10:22 a.m.

Anoka County Sheriff James Stuart and Hennepin County Sheriff Dave Hutchinson have joined Ramsey County Sheriff Bob Fletcher in saying they're suspending work by their deputies with the U.S. Marshals Service’s North Star Fugitive Task Force. 

They cite federal policy that doesn't allow local officers to wear body cameras while working with task forces. Hennepin and Ramsey county deputies were involved in a fatal shooting during a task force arrest in Minneapolis last week.

The task force was apparently attempting to arrest Winston Smith in Minneapolis on a felony firearms warrant when two sheriff's deputies shot and killed him. State investigators say there's evidence Smith fired at agents.

There is no body camera video of the incident, as task forces don't allow their use.

Federal officials haven't offered an explanation for the policy, although the Department of Justice said Tuesday it was changing policy on body-worn cameras for federal law enforcement to allow them in limited circumstances.

Smith’s killing sparked protests in the Uptown area, and racial justice activists are demanding the resignation of Minnesota U.S. Marshal Ramona Dohman.

Activist Toussaint Morrison said the Marshals Service must be held accountable.

"You can imagine that the narrative they put out saying Winston Smith had a gun is completely false, is manufactured. And I can say that just from experience, of hearing from their press releases time and time and time again," Morrison said.

Dohman, who served previously as commissioner of the Minnesota Department of Public Safety, has not responded to interview requests.

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