DOJ: Minneapolis lacked coordination, but kept peace in 4th Precinct protests

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Police increase amount of protective gear outside the Fourth Precinct. Photo by Paul Blume/Fox 9. 

The Department of Justice Office of Community Oriented Policing Services on Monday released its after-action report of the City of Minneapolis and Minneapolis Police Department’s response to the protests and demonstrations at the MPD’s 4th Precinct following the Nov. 2015 police shooting death of Jamar Clark.

The DOJ review was requested by Minneapolis Mayor Betsy Hodges and Minneapolis Police Chief Janee Harteau. The review specifically focuses on the 18-day occupation of the 4th Precinct and the police response in and around the precinct.

The report produced 36 findings and 71 recommendations concerning leadership and incident command, internal and external communication, use of force, training, equipment and tools for managing demonstrations, officer safety, and community engagement. Acting COPS Office Director Russell Washington said the findings and recommendations “will not only benefit MPD and the City of Minneapolis, but provide a roadmap for other cities faced with similar challenging situations.”

The review commended the police department for a “peaceful, measured response” that “played a large role in keeping the occupation from escalating.” But the report also found the city “lacked a coordinated political, tactical and operational response to the protests, demonstrations, and occupation of the fourth precinct police station.”

“This led to inconsistent messaging, confusion and ineffective communication that negatively affected the response,” the COPS office said. “The assessment team found that a breakdown in communication between city leaders, police leadership and line officers impacted the ability of line officers to carry out the response and inhibited effective crowd management.”

Read a full copy of the report, “Maintaining First Amendment Rights and Public Safety in North Minneapolis: An After-Action Assessment of the Police Response to Protests, Demonstrations, and Occupation of the Minneapolis Police Department’s Fourth Precinct,” here.

The shooting of Jamar Clark

Jamar Clark was shot by Minneapolis police outside of an apartment on the 1600 block of Plymouth Avenue N. on Nov. 15, 2015. Officers were responding to a request for assistance from paramedics who reported that Clark was disrupting their ability to aid an assault victim.

RECAP- Timeline of Jamar Clark shooting case

On March 30, 2016 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.

On June 1, 2016, the U.S. Department of Justice declined prosecution 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.”