Feds: No Civil Rights Charges Against Minnesota Officers In Jamar Clark Shooting

BROOKLYN CENTER, Minn. (WCCO/AP) – Federal officials announced Wednesday that there was insufficient evidence to pursue civil rights charges against the officers involved in the Jamar Clark shooting.

At a press conference at the FBI headquarters in Brooklyn Center, federal law enforcement agents said they will not file civil rights charges against Minneapolis officers Mark Ringgenberg and Dustin Schwarze.

Clark, 24, was shot in the head by Schwarze on Nov. 15 on Minneapolis’ north side. His death a day later sparked weeks of protests and an 18-day occupation outside the city’s 4th Precinct police station.

Since the day of the shooting, community members have maintained that Clark was in handcuffs when he was fatally shot. Police have disputed that.

According to an investigation by the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension, Clark refused to take his hands out of his pockets when Ringgenberg and Schwarze responded to a call of a man interfering with paramedics. Investigators say Ringgenberg tried to handcuff Clark by bringing him down to the ground, which resulted in a struggle.

When Clark grabbed hold Ringgenberg’s gun, Schwarze shot him in the head soon after, investigators said. The encounter – from when the officers first approached Clark to the moment he was shot – lasted just over a minute.
In March, Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman declined to file criminal charges against the officers. He said there was no bruising on Clark’s wrists to suggest he was in handcuffs and that Clark’s DNA was found on Ringgenberg’s gun. Freeman also cited conflicting accounts by witnesses about whether Clark was cuffed.
Mayor Betsy Hodges requested the civil rights investigation.
An internal police investigation is now expected since the U.S. Justice Department’s probe into the shooting has concluded.

In the meantime, however, the Justice Department is also investigating the city’s response to the protests. Though those protests were largely peaceful, one demonstration outside the 4th Precinct soon after the shooting included some skirmishes between officers and protesters. At least one federal lawsuit has been filed accusing officers of excessive force during a Nov. 18 demonstration.

The Clark shooting spurred state lawmakers to examine longstanding complaints of racial inequities, particularly on the impoverished north side. Advocates requested more investment in minority-owned businesses and a summer job program for black teens, and lawmakers this spring set aside $35 million.

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