As Part of Vera Institute Initiative, Progressive County Attorney Will Stop Prosecuting Non-Public Safety Traffic Stops to Address Systemic Bias, Honoring Philando Castile and Others

Media Contact: Nicholas MacDonald,

Motion for Justice pilot office Ramsey County Attorney John Choi is no longer prosecuting criminal cases against people unfairly targeted for minor infractions and traffic-related stops that do not involve public safety

Policy changes come five years after the killing of Philando Castile, who was fatally shot by police officers during a non-public safety traffic stop

Washington, D.C. – As part of the Vera Institute of Justice’s Motion for Justice initiative, the office of Ramsey County Attorney John Choi in Minnesota has announced that they will no longer prosecute cases against people who are unfairly targeted and detained during traffic stops. These non-public safety stops, which are often referred to as pretextual stops, occur when a person is detained for a minor infraction while police seek evidence of a more serious crime. Research shows that racial and ethnic bias play a role in police decisions to make this type of traffic stop, and the decision comes as prosecutors are working to address systemic inequities and biases in their policies and practices.

“Sandra Bland, Eric Garner, and Philando Castile would still be alive if prosecutors had adopted policies similar to the ones that John Choi and Carol Siemon have implemented,” said Akhi Johnson, Acting Director of the Reshaping Prosecution Initiative at the Vera Institute of Justice. “In this moment of reckoning, prosecutors have a responsibility to question existing practices and seek to rectify biased policies that inflict deep harm on Black communities.”

Evidence shows that non-public safety stops reflect racial bias, and police stop, question, and search people of color at higher rates than white people. In addition, non-public safety stops do not improve public safety, as the majority do not result in the discovery of contraband or weapons. When prosecutors condone non-public safety stops, they encourage police officers to focus on people, rather than actions, they deem "suspicious.”

"As leaders in the justice system, we must step forward and fundamentally change a long-standing systemic injustice that has impacted generations of people in our community and across the country," said Ramsey County Attorney John Choi. "Recognizing the role we play as prosecutors in perpetuating racial inequalities that often result from these types of stops is an important first step in charting a new, less harmful course."

The Motion for Justice program helps prosecutors bridge the gap between law enforcement agencies and the communities they serve by creating lasting policies and practices that tackle the racial injustices deeply rooted in the criminal legal system. As part of this program, the Vera Institute of Justice partners with prosecutors and examines the current impact of the criminal legal system’s history of oppression; analyzes why stark racial disparities exist; and encourages prosecutors to partner with community leaders, recognizing that the people closest to the problem are closest to the solution.

Current Motion for Justice partners include the offices of Ramsey County Attorney John Choi in Minnesota; Ingham County Prosecutor Carol Siemon in Michigan; Suffolk County District Attorney Rachael Rollins in Massachusetts; St. Louis Circuit Attorney Kim Gardner; and Commonwealth's Attorney for Arlington County and the City of Falls Church Parisa Dehghani-Tafti.

In June, Motion for Justice added ten new partners:

  • Westchester County District Attorney Miriam Rocah and the Youth Shelter of Westchester

  • Fairfax County Commonwealth’s Attorney Stephen Descano and Opportunities, Alternatives, and Resources of Fairfax County

  • Washtenaw County Prosecutor Eli Savit and My Brother’s Keeper Washtenaw County

  • Athens-Clarke County District Attorney Deborah Gonzalez and People Living in Recovery

  • Chatham County District Attorney Shalena Cook Jones and Savannah Feed the Hungry

  • Kauai County Prosecutor Justin Kollar and Hale Opio

  • Marion County Prosecutor Ryan Mears and Horizon House

  • Franklin County District Attorney Matt Fogal and Racial Reconciliation

More information about the Motion for Justice initiative is available at

The Vera Institute of Justice is powered by hundreds of advocates, researchers, and community organizers working to transform the criminal legal and immigration systems until they’re fair for all. Founded in 1961 to advocate for alternatives to money bail in New York City, Vera is now a national organization that partners with impacted communities and government leaders for change. We develop just, antiracist solutions so that money doesn’t determine freedom; fewer people are in jails, prisons, and immigration detention; and everyone is treated with dignity. Vera’s headquarters is in Brooklyn, New York, with offices in Washington, DC, New Orleans, and Los Angeles. For more information about vera, visit