Another shooting of another unarmed black man has resulted in another decision not to indict the police officers involved. This time, Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman announced on Wednesday that two Minneapolis officers would not be indicted in the shooting death of 24-year-old Jamar Clark.
Freeman made the case that, contrary to earlier reports and the testimony of a dozen civilian witnesses, DNA evidence showed that Clark was not handcuffed when he was shot and killed last fall. He said that there was none of Clark’s DNA on the inside of the handcuffs found near the scene, nor did Clark’s autopsy find cuff-marks on his wrists. The incident had sparked widespread protests in Minneapolis.
Here is Freeman’s account of the incident—which began with officers Mark Ringgenberg and Dustin Schwarze approaching Clark during a Nov. 15 confrontation over paramedics placing his girlfriend in an ambulance—as told by the Star Tribune:
Officers told Clark to take his hands out of his pockets and he wouldn’t. Ringgenberg, who had initially drawn his gun, put it back in the holster and grabbed Clark’s right wrist. Schwarze grabbed Clark’s other arm and dropped his handcuffs while trying to cuff him. Ringgenberg then tried a takedown move of Clark, and they both fell to the ground with Ringgenberg’s back to Clark’s stomach.
Ringgenberg felt his holstered gun go from his hip to the small of his back. Ringgenberg reached back and felt Clark’s hand on his gun. He repeatedly told Schwarze: “He’s got my gun, he’s got my gun.”
Schwarze put his gun to edge of Clark’s mouth and said, “Let go or I’m going to shoot you.”
Schwarze said Clark looked at him and said “I’m ready to die.”
Schwarze pulled the trigger once, but the slide caught. He pulled the trigger again and the gun went off, 61 seconds after the officers first encountered Clark. He died the next day.
Freeman said that Clark’s DNA was found on the grip of Ringgenberg’s gun.
In video footage of the incident released by the attorney’s office, it was difficult to make out what was happening. But it did appear as though Clark was grabbed and taken down by officers quite suddenly and without much in the way of apparent provocation—the footage seems to show Clark having at least one hand in a pocket at the time. The video was aired at a press conference announcing the decision where Clark supporters and members of his family were in attendance. After that portion was shown, someone in the room shouted “How is that resisting?”
The Star Tribune’s report has more details that you should read if you are interested in the case. If you want to examine the evidence used to make the determination yourself, the county attorney’s office released much it online.