Minneapolis, MN - The Minneapolis Urban League is troubled and deeply disappointed by Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman’s decision not to prosecute Minneapolis Police Department (MPD) Officers Dustin Schwarze and Mark Ringgenberg for the November 15, 2015 killing of Jamar Clark. Our thoughts and prayers continue to go out to Jamar Clark's family and loved ones who seek justice and closure on this senseless loss of life.
“We are dismayed by the porous rationale and flawed legal analysis the county attorney offered in support of his failure to hold the accused officers accountable for killing a weaponless human being,” said Steven Belton, Minneapolis Urban League President and CEO. “Freeman repeatedly stated as fact the unsubstantiated assertions of officers Ringgenberg and Schwarze, but disregarded the contrary statements of multiple eyewitnesses.”
Freeman stated that Clark struggled with the police officers when they attempted to cuff him. But multiple eyewitnesses reported that Clark was peaceful when he was in the officer’s custody and did not struggle with them until he was violently thrown to the ground by one of the officers.
Indirectly attempting to make the case that Clark’s death was “suicide by cop,” Freeman stated that Clark supposedly told the officers, “I am ready to die,” right before Schwarze fatally shot him, as though that statement, even if Clark said it, somehow granted the officers permission to kill him. But, Freeman admitted at his press conference that no one—not one of the 50 witnesses and bystanders to the shooting—corroborated that statement.
“The county attorney’s refusal to prosecute further erodes the community's trust in the legal system and law enforcement,” Belton continued. “Unfortunately, today's announcement creates an even greater division between the African American community and those who took a vow to uphold the law and protect the people.”
The Minneapolis Urban League calls for immediate steps as follows: 1) pass legislation and/or city ordinance to require Minneapolis Police officers purchase at their own expense professional liability insurance; and 2) the MPD should immediately be placed under federal receivership pursuant to a mediation agreement. “Going forward, we believe the most productive avenue for reform and restoring community trust is systemic change,” Belton said.
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The Minneapolis Urban League will continue to support the Clark family’s quest for justice. We await the conclusion of the federal investigation underway and remain hopeful for a just outcome. In the meantime, we will review and evaluate the evidence, reports and videos that the county attorney promised to share with the public. Our community deserves to know why our basic humanity continues to be ignored. We are weary of a system where police officers are never prosecuted for wrongdoing, even homicide.
As our mission states, the Minneapolis Urban League will remain vigilant in the struggle for racial justice and equity, moving our community forward-one child, family, neighborhood and community at a time.
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