US police involved in black shooting not charged

  • 31/03/2016
Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman announces his decision not to charge two policemen (Reuters)
Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman announces his decision not to charge two policemen (Reuters)

Two Minneapolis police officers involved in the shooting death of a 24-year-old black man will not be charged, prosecutors say, 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 Mr Clark struggled with officers Mark Ringgenberg and Dustin Schwarze, who are white, and that he was not handcuffed and at one point had his hand on a gun.

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

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

Mr Freeman made the decision not to charge the officers, bypassing use of a grand jury.

Activists criticised the decision not to charge the officers and said questions remained unanswered, such as why Mr Clark was shot 61 seconds after police arrived at the scene.

On Wednesday (local time) evening, hundreds of peaceful protesters led by activists from Black Lives Matter Minneapolis converged on a central government plaza, chanting "No justice, no peace, prosecute the police", and waving signs as they marched.

The demonstrators, who filled the plaza, listened to speeches and sang songs. At one point, an organiser recalled a similar rally held in the city four years ago in memory of Trayvon Martin, an unarmed black Florida teenager who was shot dead by a volunteer watchman.

On November 15, 2015, police said they responded to a request to assist an ambulance that had been sent to north Minneapolis to treat Mr Clark's girlfriend. Mr Freeman said she had been assaulted by Mr Clark.

Police said Mr Clark was shot during a struggle after he confronted paramedics and impeded their ability to help his girlfriend. Mr Clark died the next day.

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