Jamar Clark shooting, one year later
Irma Burns said her son had been trying to turn his life around before he was killed in a confrontation with Minneapolis police.
The two Minneapolis officers involved in the Nov. 15 shooting of Jamar Clark did not violate department policy and will not face discipline, Police Chief Janee Harteau said Friday.
Civil rights inquiry due in Minneapolis police shooting
Federal officials in Minneapolis will announce Wednesday whether they believe the civil rights of a 24-year-old black man were violated last November in a confrontation with two police officers that led to his death.
An officer shot Jamar Clark Nov. 15, and he died a day later. His death sparked weeks of protests and an 18-day occupation outside a north side police precinct.
A key issue was whether Clark was handcuffed at the time of the shooting. Several witnesses said he was; police said he was not.
The confrontation that led to Clark's death began when police were called by paramedics who said he was interfering with their efforts to treat an assault victim. Officers Mark Ringgenberg and Dustin Schwarze responded.
According to an investigation by the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension, Clark refused orders to take his hands out of his pockets. The officers tried to handcuff him but failed. Ringgenberg wrestled Clark to the ground but wound up on his back atop Clark and felt Clark's hand on his weapon, according to the investigation.
Schwarze then shot Clark in an encounter that lasted barely more than a minute from the time officers first arrived.
In March, Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman declined to file criminal charges against the officers. He cited forensic evidence in the BCA investigation that found no bruising of Clark's wrists that handcuffs would likely have caused and found Clark's DNA on Ringgenberg's gun. Freeman also cited conflicting accounts by witnesses about whether Clark was cuffed.
Mayor Betsy Hodges requested the civil rights investigation, conducted by the U.S. Attorney's Office in Minnesota and the Justice Department's Civil Rights Division. They will determine whether the officers intentionally violated Clark's civil rights through excessive force. That's a high legal standard because an accident, bad judgment or simple negligence is not enough to bring federal charges.
The DOJ is also reviewing how the city responded to the protests that followed Clark's death, which included some skirmishes between officers and protesters.
An internal police investigation is also expected once the results of the federal investigation are released.
DNA and other evidence showed Minneapolis police officers were justified using deadly force during the 61 second confrontation, Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman said. Clark supporters immediately cast doubt on the prosecutor's account. Some took to the streets.
by Peter Cox via twitter 3/31/2016 3:59:52 AM
by Peter Cox via twitter 3/31/2016 3:49:16 AM
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by Judy Griesedieck via twitter 3/31/2016 2:32:04 AM
Key details in no charges against 2 Minneapolis officers
A Minnesota prosecutor released hundreds of pages of documents and videos hours after detailing Wednesday the reasons why two white officers would not face criminal charges in the Nov. 15 fatal shooting of a black man. Jamar Clark, 24, died a day later. Some key details of the investigation:
According to an account laid out by Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman, police were called to north Minneapolis early Nov. 15 by paramedics who were trying to treat Clark's girlfriend for an assault in which Clark was the suspect and said Clark was interfering.
When police arrived, Clark refused orders to remove his hands from his pockets. Officers tried to handcuff Clark but couldn't.
Officer Mark Ringgenberg took Clark to the ground and ended up on his back atop Clark. Ringgenberg felt his gun shift from his hip to the small of his back. He reached back and felt Clark's hand on his weapon.
Ringgenberg said, "He's got my gun," according to Freeman. Schwarze said he dropped his handcuffs, put his gun to the edge of Clark's mouth and warned him to let go or he would shoot. Clark looked at Schwarze and said: "I'm ready to die."
According to Freeman, Schwarze pulled the trigger but the gun didn't fire. Schwarze heard Ringgenberg say "shoot him" in a panicked voice, and Schwarze pulled the trigger again and the gun fired. Clark was shot in the head.
Freeman said the entire incident, in which he said deadly force was necessary, took 61 seconds from the time police first approached Clark.
KEY EVIDENCE REVEALED
The issue of whether Clark was handcuffed was a key factor in the investigation. Several people who said they saw the shooting said Clark was restrained and not struggling.
But Freeman said forensic evidence didn't support witness statements that Clark was handcuffed — he had no bruising or injuries on his wrists consistent with being handcuffed and his DNA was not found on the inside of the handcuffs that were on the ground nearby.
Freeman also said Clark's DNA was found on the grip of Ringgenberg's gun, supporting the officers' account.
"Clark simply could not have been handcuffed when he attempted to seize the gun while they were on the ground," Freeman said.
Freeman said 20 civilian witnesses gave different versions of whether Clark was handcuffed. Two said he wasn't, six weren't sure and 12 said he was, but they disagreed on whether both his hands were cuffed and whether his hands were in front of him or behind his back.
Freeman said he didn't believe the witnesses were lying, but it's not uncommon for people to have differing stories from different vantage points. He said in such cases, prosecutors need to look to forensic evidence.
Activists said Freeman gave more weight to the police officers' version of events than he did to the witnesses. One unidentified woman called Freeman's narrative "propaganda" during the news conference. Others said Freeman's announcement showed the system is rigged against African-Americans.
Activists rallied Wednesday at the site of Clark's shooting in north Minneapolis and at a park on the southeast side of downtown. The two groups converged at the Hennepin County Government Center, where hundreds participated in a peaceful demonstration including singing, chanting and speeches.
Ringgenberg and Schwarze still face an internal police investigation, as well as a federal investigation into whether they intentionally violated Clark's civil rights through excessive force.
The Department of Justice is also reviewing how the city responded to protests after Clark's death.
-- Amy Forliti, Associated Press
by Michael Olson, MPR News via YouTube 3/31/2016 12:27:12 AM