MINNEAPOLIS (KMSP) - The U.S. Department of Justice declined prosecution Wednesday in the shooting of Jamar Clark by Minneapolis police. The federal civil rights investigation concluded Clark’s death was “undeniably tragic” but “evidence is insufficient to meet substantial evidentiary requirements.”
U.S. Attorney Andrew Luger is the second prosecutor to decline prosecution in Clark's death, following Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman's decision in March to clear officers Dustin Schwarze and Mark Ringgenberg. But Luger said this case highlights the need to discuss the issues surrounding the use of force by police in Minnesota.
Luger and FBI special agent in charge Richard Thornton met with Clark's family ahead of Wednesday's announcement at FBI headquarters in Brooklyn Center, Minn.
The Justice Department investigation looked closely at whether Jamar Clark was handcuffed when he was shot and killed, but evidence suggests he was not restrained at the time lethal force was used.
Investigators heard from 29 shooting witnesses, but none were close enough to the see exactly what happened during the struggle. Luger said witness accounts also failed to provide any consistent narrative that establishes the details of exactly what happened.
Minneapolis Mayor Betsy Hodges statement
“Chief Harteau and I asked for this independent federal investigation by the Department of Justice because we believed it would be the best way to build confidence in the process and in the outcome for everyone concerned. The community wanted a federal review, and so on Nov. 16 we asked the Department of Justice to open a civil rights investigation. Now that the investigation has concluded, I want to thank the Department of Justice for its independent investigation. At this time, the City will move forward with its own internal investigation.”
“This has been a difficult time for all of Minneapolis,” Hodges continued. “I understand this decision has struck at the heart of a painful tension in the community. What we can do now is move forward together to build a city that is safe and equitable for everyone.”
Minneapolis Police Chief Janee Harteau statement
“Very early in this process, many community members asked for this federal investigation, which the mayor and I supported and requested. I have full faith in this independent investigation. We have had two thorough investigations into this matter that arrived at the same conclusion. I am satisfied with the thoroughness of these investigations, am confident in their results, and I hope the public will accept their conclusions. I will continue to support the officers involved as the MPD moves forward with its work building trust and legitimacy with the communities we serve.”
NAACP says FBI attempted to 'hoodwink and bamboozle us'
Nekima Levy-Pounds, president of the Minneapolis chapter of the NAACP, claims the FBI deliberately excluded their representatives from Wednesday's announcement. She posted the following message to Facebook:
"Friends, We just found out that there has been an attempt to hoodwink and bamboozle us by the powers that be in the Jamar Clark case. As you may know, the news media has been reporting that the press conference by the U.S. Attorney's office/DOJ would be held at 11am today. Many of us who are considered to be community leaders were falsely told that the press conference would be held at 1:30pm today. After questioning a government official about this discrepancy, we we were told that the 1:30 meeting is actually a meeting with community leaders. Only the press and federal authorities will be allowed in the 11am press conference.
"It is unacceptable for government leaders to exclude those of us who have been on the front lines demanding #Justice4Jamar and it is even worse that they would blatantly lie to us about the nature of the 1:30pm meeting. We already know that there will be zero accountability for the officers officers who shot Jamar Clark in the head. They will attempt to justify the killing of Jamar Clark in manner similar to Mike Freeman. There is already a question of whether this investigation was actually "independent" if they relied upon the BCA for assistance."
Clark was shot by Minneapolis police outside of an apartment on the 1600 block of Plymouth Avenue N. on Nov. 15. Officers were responding to a request for assistance from paramedics who reported that Clark was disrupting their ability to aid an assault victim.
On March 30, Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman announced that no charges would be filed against the two Minneapolis police officers involved in Clark's death.
"Officer Schwarze's actions were reasonable because if Clark successfully pulled the gun from the holster, Ringgenberg and Schwarze would have been shot and other bystanders might have been hit as well," Freeman said.