Officers in Jamar Clark shooting await outcome of federal probe

Reuters News
|
Posted: Mar 31, 2016 4:12 PM

(Reuters) - Two Minneapolis police officers involved in the shooting death of a 24-year-old black man are awaiting the outcome of a federal investigation after a county attorney said they would not face local charges.

Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman said Wednesday that Officers Mark Ringgenberg and Dustin Schwarze, both white, would not be charged because evidence showed Jamar Clark was not handcuffed and at one point had his hand on an officer's gun before he was shot last November.

While local authorities did not charge the officers, the men still face a federal investigation into whether they violated Clark's civil rights, followed by a disciplinary review by the Minneapolis police department, officials said.

The federal investigation will be conducted by the U.S. Department of Justice's civil rights division, the U.S. Attorney's Office in Minneapolis and the FBI's Minneapolis division. Federal officials would not comment.

Authorities said Clark was a suspect in an assault and had an altercation with the officers before one of them shot him. His death 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 has seen protests because of killings by police.

David Prestwood, spokesman for Minneapolis Mayor Betsy Hodges, said city officials have no idea when the federal investigation will be completed.

Police officials have said the internal police investigation will not be conducted until after the federal probe. Bob Kroll, president of the union that represents the officers, said the internal review can take several months.

"I'm confident they will find no civil rights violations," he said in an email of the federal investigation, which he expects to wrap up soon. He also believes the internal review will clear Schwarze and Ringgenberg.

Kroll said the officers want to return to patrol duty and their duty status is being determined by an arbitrator. They remain on desk duty, police officials said.

Bob Sicoli, Ringgenberg's attorney, declined to discuss the federal investigation. He and Schwarze's attorney both previously said the evidence supported Freeman's decision.

Clark's adoptive parents, James and Wilma Clark, told KSTP TV in Minneapolis that they were disappointed with Freeman's decision.

"It's just sad. How can an officer of the law be like that toward another human being?" James Clark told the ABC affiliate.

(Reporting by Ben Klayman in Detroit; Additional reporting by Julia Harte Harte in Washintgon; Editing by Bill Trott)