The Minneapolis Police officers involved in shooting and killing Jamar Clark last year will not be charged with criminal wrongdoing, Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman announced at a press conference today. An investigation found that Clark was not handcuffed when he died, Freeman said—a crucial point of contention between activists and the police.
Clark, 24, was shot after midnight on November 15, 2015. Paramedics responded on a call that Clark had assaulted his girlfriend when she attempted to intervene in a scuffle he was having with another attendee at a party, according to Freeman. Police were called after Clark acted belligerently with the paramedics, he said. A witness gave the Minneapolis Star Tribune a different account, saying Clark was only attempting to talk to his girlfriend as she was being carted away.
From there, accounts of the incident diverge more widely. According to Freeman’s investigation, Clark struggled with Mark Riggenberg, one of the responding officers, and both men ended up on the ground. Riggenberg shouted to his partner, Dustin Schwarze, that Clark had gotten his gun, and urged Schwarze to shoot, Freeman said.
The Star Tribune’s Libor Jany reported from the press conference:
To which, Freeman says, Clark said he was "ready to die."— Libor Jany (@StribJany) March 30, 2016
Schwarze says he feared for his life and his partner insisted that he shoot Clark, Freeman says.— Libor Jany (@StribJany) March 30, 2016
Freeman says that the gun jammed at first when Schwarze pulled the trigger, but then he cocked it and fired a shot at Clark's head.— Libor Jany (@StribJany) March 30, 2016
But several witnesses have said that Clark was handcuffed when the officer shot him. “The young man was just laying there; he was not resisting arrest,” one bystander was quoted in an NAACP statement as saying, days after the shooting. “Two officers were surrounding the victim on the ground, an officer maneuvered his body around to shield Jamar’s body, and I heard the shot go off.” The police disputed that account, saying that Clark was not cuffed.
Freeman’s investigation agreed with the department’s stance. According to Freeman, Officer Schwarze pulled his cuffs out in an attempt to cuff Clark, but dropped them on the ground. Freeman also alleged that Clark’s DNA had been found on the butt of the gun.
Early on, activists also called on the police to publicly release official video of the incident. Freeman said today that there is no dashcam video of the shooting because the officers did not turn on their vehicle’s lights.
Libor Jany also reported that several people in attendance, including one of Clark’s family members, began shouting at Freeman during the press conference.
Clark's cousin Cameron is in the back, saying Freeman has "blood on his hands." Now questions are being shouted from the back of the room.— Libor Jany (@StribJany) March 30, 2016
Another audience member says to Freeman, that "if the city burns it is on your hands."— Libor Jany (@StribJany) March 30, 2016