MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — The Minnesota chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union and the Minneapolis NAACP filed a lawsuit Tuesday in hopes of forcing authorities to release video footage from the night a black man was fatally shot by police.
Jamar Clark, 24, was shot by a Minneapolis officer on Nov. 15 during what authorities said was a struggle. He died a day later. But others have said they saw the shooting and that Clark was handcuffed at the time. Clark's death prompted numerous protests in the city, including an 18-day occupation outside the local police precinct where demonstrators demanded that video of the shooting be released.
The Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension said in November that it had video from several sources, but none showed the incident in its entirety. The BCA has said it would not release video until the case is closed to avoid possibly tainting the investigation, which is ongoing.
The lawsuit, filed in Ramsey County District Court, alleges the BCA and the Minnesota Department of Public Safety violated the data practices act by withholding the video.
The lawsuit asks that any and all videos be released as soon as possible "because the benefit to the public from release of the Videos greatly outweighs any potential harm to the public, to the BCA, and to the individuals captured on the Videos."
The lawsuit also says Clark's shooting "laid bare the broken relationship" between police and communities of color, and releasing the videos might shed light on the differing accounts of what happened that night.
"Until the community is given some measure of transparency through the release of the Videos, the relationship between the community and police department cannot begin to be repaired," the lawsuit says.
Bruce Gordon, spokesman for the Department of Public Safety, said Tuesday that he can't comment on pending litigation. But he reiterated that the BCA will release the videos and other public data once the case is closed, as it does with any investigation, to protect the rights of everyone involved.
The lawsuit also notes that Gov. Mark Dayton viewed video recorded by an ambulance camera, and said publicly that it was inconclusive. The lawsuit says the governor is not a law enforcement officer or lawyer and has no greater right to view the video than the general public.
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