Police will not be charged in Minneapolis death of black man

Reuters News
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Posted: Mar 30, 2016 9:36 AM

By Todd Melby

MINNEAPOLIS (Reuters) - Two Minneapolis police officers involved in the shooting death of a 24-year-old black man will not be charged, prosecutors said on Wednesday, because evidence showed Jamar Clark was not handcuffed and that he reached for an officer's gun.

Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman told a news conference that Clark struggled with Officers Mark Ringgenberg and Dustin Schwarze and at one point had his hand on a gun.

Freeman said the officers said that without the use of deadly force Clark would have taken possession of the gun.

"Each stated their independent fear of being shot," Freeman said. "Accordingly, the head of the county attorney's office has concluded criminal charges are not warranted."

Clark's shooting came at a time of fierce national debate over the use of excessive force by police, especially against black men. Minneapolis is one of a number of U.S. cities that have seen protests over killings by police.

Police said they responded to a request to assist an ambulance that had been sent to north Minneapolis on Nov. 15 to treat Clark's girlfriend. Freeman said she had been assaulted by Clark.

Police said Clark was shot during a struggle after he confronted paramedics and impeded their ability help her. Clark died while hospitalized the next day.

Freeman said one of the officers had tried to handcuff Clark and DNA evidence showed that in the ensuing struggle Clark got his hand on Ringgenberg's gun.

Some witnesses had said Clark was handcuffed or restrained on the ground when he was shot.

Freeman said Clark told the officers, "I'm ready to die," but only the police heard the comment.

It was not recorded because Minneapolis police do not wear body cameras. The dash-board video camera on the patrol car did not automatically start because the lights and siren, which trigger it, had not been used due to the nature of the call, Freeman said.

(Additional reporting by Ben Klayman; Editing by Fiona Ortiz and Bill Rigby)