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Friday, July 19, 2024 | Back issues
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No Charges for Officers|in Jamar Clark’s Death

(CN) - Two officers will not face charges for the shooting of an unarmed black man in Minneapolis that sparked major protests, the Hennepin County Attorney announced Wednesday.

Jamar Clark was killed with a gunshot to the head after a minute-long encounter with Minneapolis police officers Mark Ringgenberg and Dustin Schwarze early in the morning of Nov. 15, 2015.

The officers responded to a domestic disturbance call prompted by a violent domestic dispute Clark was allegedly having with his girlfriend.

The officers claim that Clark tried to grab an officer's gun, but witnesses claimed that the 24-year-old Clark was handcuffed when he was shot.

Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman announced Wednesday that he will not bring charges against either Ringgenberg or Schwarze for Clark's death.

Freeman said the case was "not at all similar to others seen around the country," referring to police killings in St. Louis, Chicago, New York, and Baltimore, among others.

The officers "did not have an opportunity to withdraw" from their scuffle with Clark, Freeman said.

Freeman reviewed the thousands of pages of evidence himself rather than sending the case to a grand jury, in a nod to protestors' demands for transparency.

He also accompanied his decision with the public release of the documents and video he reviewed.

Freeman's investigation found that Clark was not handcuffed when he struggled with the officers, and that the officers reasonably feared for their lives.

Clark's death provoked outrage in Minneapolis and was a flashpoint for the Black Lives Matter movement.

After Clark's death in November, protestors blocked Interstate 94, stopping traffic for more than two hours. They also set up an encampment outside the north Minneapolis precinct headquarters, which police forcibly removed using pepper spray.

At one point during the encampment, three white men attacked the protestors, shooting and injuring five people.

Protestors also staged a rally at Mall of America that briefly shut down the shopping center during the Christmas shopping period.

After reports of police cars being damages, Minneapolis Police Chief Janee Harteau said police believed they were "dealing with anarchists."

At the request of Minneapolis Mayor Betsy Hodge, prosecutors from the U.S. Justice Department's Civil Rights Division are currently investigating the Minneapolis police department.

Harteau said she will not make a decision on disciplining the officers until the federal investigation is complete.

City officials have prepared for the possibility the decision will spark protests, but the mayor invited activists to protest peacefully.

"In Minneapolis, we value First Amendment rights to free speech and peaceful protest," Hodges said. "As mayor, I intend to honor those values."

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