John wrote about the the case of Jamar Clark in the aptly headed post “Ferguson comes to Minneapolis.” Clark was supposedly the victim of a police shooting on the evening just past midnight in the early hours of a Sunday morning this past November. Minneapolis police had been called to the scene of an assault that occurred less than two blocks from the nearest precinct station. Clark had beaten his girlfriend. When police arrived, Clark had returned to the scene and, according to police accounts, was interfering with the paramedics who were trying to treat his girlfriend. A scuffle with one or more of the police officers ensued, and one of the officers shot Clark.
There were various witnesses on or near the scene. Some said that Clark was already handcuffed when the police officer shot him. The Black Lives Matter crowd demanded “Justice4Jamar” before all the evidence was in.
Minneapolis police Chief Janee Harteau said that the department’s initial information is that he was not handcuffed. Videos capturing parts of the incident was available to investigators reviewing the case, but weren’t released until today. The state’s Bureau of Criminal Apprehension investigated the shooting as a matter of course and turned over its investigatory materials to Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman. Rather than submit the case to a grand jury, Freeman reviewed the materials and made the prosecutorial decision himself.
Today Freeman announced his decision. He has decided not to prosecute the case. Based on the evidence, I don’t know how he could have. Clark’s behavior was outrageous. Despite the claims of various witnesses, he wasn’t handcuffed at the time of the shooting. Clark attempted to grab one of the officer’s guns and as they tussled on the ground. Clark refused to desist; the officer feared for his life and asked the other office present to shoot Clark. According to the officer on the ground with Clark, Clark all but asked to be killed as the incident unfolded. Ferguson comes to Minneapolis, indeed.
Not that it matters to the Black Lives Matter crowd. The demand for lynch mob justice and the threat of violence in protest persist. The protests went under the rubric Justice4Jamar; the protests continue under the rubric Justice4Jamar.
Today the Hennepin County Attorney’s Office released its report and posted it together with the underlying materials here. Critical paragraphs from pages 2-3 of the report (footnotes and section heading omitted) read as follows:
MPD Officers Schwarze and Ringgenberg arrived on the scene from the 4th Precinct stationhouse, which is only 3 blocks away, and parked behind EMS Supervisor Trullinger’s Suburban. Because they were so close to 1611 Plymouth and the call was for ambulance assistance, the officers did not activate lights and sirens which, in turn, means that their squad’s video cameras were not automatically activated. Trullinger met the officers and told them that the person in the ambulance was assaulted by the person up on the curb who was interfering with the paramedics. Trullinger then went to the ambulance to talk with the paramedics and Hayes.
Ringgenberg and Schwarze approached Clark at 0049:16 and noticed his hands were in his pockets and told him to take his hands out. Ringgenberg took his gun out and held it down in front, not pointing at Clark. Clark started yelling, “What’s the pistol for?” The officers again and repeatedly told Clark to take his hands out of his pockets and he did not comply. Ringgenberg put the gun back in his holster and grabbed Clark’s right wrist while Schwarze grabbed Clark’s left hand. Schwarze had his handcuffs out but said he was never able to get them on Clark.
Ringgenberg had been trained in his prior work as a police officer in San Diego to take a suspect to the ground when he or she resisted being handcuffed because it was believed to be safer. After Clark resisted being handcuffed, Ringgenberg quickly reached his arm around Clark’s chest and neck and took him to the ground at 0049:29. Ringgenberg landed on his side on top of Clark, who was on his back.
Ringgenberg said he tried to move away from Clark to get in position to handcuff him. Ringgenberg felt his gun go from his right hip to the small of his back and told Schwarze, “He’s got my gun.” Ringgenberg said he reached back to the top of his gun and felt Clark’s “whole” hand on the gun. Ringgenberg repeatedly told his partner Schwarze, “He’s got my gun, he’s got my gun.” Ringgenberg recalled hearing Schwarze tell Clark to let go of the gun or Schwarze would shoot. Ringgenberg heard Clark say, “I’m ready to die.” Ringgenberg said, “That was the worst feeling ever because, it just, my heart just sank.” Ringgenberg believed he was going to die at that point because he had no control over his gun. Ringgenberg felt that Clark didn’t care what happened to him and remembered thinking that he didn’t want his partner to die with his gun. After Ringgenberg heard the round go off he remembered being able to roll away.
Schwarze said that as the officers approached Clark he had “this thousand yard stare.” Schwarze said that after Ringgenberg used the takedown maneuver, Schwarze maintained control of Clark’s left hand and was waiting for Ringgenberg to turn Clark over so they could handcuff him. Schwarze heard Ringgenberg say, “He’s got my gun” in a very “stern, excited like very serious” tone. Schwarze, who had his handcuffs out, then dropped the handcuffs on the ground and took out his gun. Schwarze said he put the gun to the edge of Clark’s mouth and said, “Let go or I’m gonna shoot you.” Schwarze recalled Clark looking directly at him and saying, “I’m ready to die.” Schwarze said the “only thing I could think of to do was to save our lives and anyone else in the immediate area so I pulled the trigger.” Schwarze said the gun did not fire because the slide was partially pulled back. Schwarze heard Ringgenberg saying “Shoot him” in a panicked voice so Schwarze pulled the trigger again and the gun fired.
The Star Tribune story on Freeman’s announcement in the case is here. Minneapolis Mayor Betsy Hodges is a profile in cowardice. She can’t say whether she supports Freeman’s decision. Federal authorities continue their own investigation.
Quotable quote: “At Freeman’s news conference, Raeisha Williams, communications director for the Minneapolis chapter of the NAACP and a City Council candidate, said to him, ‘If the city burns, it’s on your hands.’ Miski Noor, a Black Lives Matter organizer called for a nonviolent response and added, ‘I don’t think Raeisha is advocating [violence]. … I think her point is people are frustrated and are upset because yet again the justice system does not value black life.’”
A reader drove by the scene of the shooting today and emailed us the photo below. Israel, of course, has something to do with it.