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Decision not to charge Minneapolis police officers sparks anger — and questions

MinnPost photo by Mike Dvorak
Joyce Powell, sister of Jamar Clark, crying on Wednesday at the memorial for Clark following the news that Minneapolis police officers Mark Ringgenberg and Dustin Schwarze would not be charged in his death.

On Wednesday night, Cameron Clark dipped one hand into his jacket pocket while the other pointed to the spot where two Minneapolis police officers wrestled with his cousin, Jamar Clark, on Nov. 15, 2015.

“Jamar was shot right here,” said Cameron with reddened eyes. “My cousin was a good person, always smiling. You would never know when Jamar is down, and he would always lift you with a smile.”

That confrontation ended with a gunshot to Jamar Clark’s head. The next day, the 24-year-old was pronounced dead at Hennepin County Medical Center.

On Wednesday morning, after a months-long investigation, Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman ruled the shooting justifiable. Hours later, Cameron and hundreds of others gathered for a makeshift memorial outside 1611 Plymouth Ave., where Clark was shot.

For months, the conflicting accounts surrounding the case resulted in a series of demonstrations that brought leaders from the NAACP and Black Lives Matter to north Minneapolis. Protesters demanded that officers Dustin Schwarze and Mark Ringgenberg be prosecuted, that tapes of the incident be made public, that a grand jury not be used in the case and that an independent agency investigate the incident.

Those demands were granted, in part: The Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension (BCA) took over the investigation of the case; and Freeman decided not to use a grand jury in Jamar’s case — or any other future cases involving police shootings.

But on Wednesday morning, Freeman announced the most critical decision in the case: that MPD officers Schwarze and Mark Ringgenberg will not be charged criminally. In detailing the shooting incident of Jamar on Wednesday, Freeman presented a report chronicling the event, showed videos from bystanders and ambulances, the autopsy reports as well as lab reports and photos from the BCA.

Within hours of the announcement, scores of peaceful demonstrators assembled at north Minneapolis address where Clark was shot, and chanted, “No justice, no peace! Prosecute the police!”

Citizens protesting the decision not to charge the officers
MinnPost photo by Ibrahim Hirsi
Citizens protesting the decision not to charge the officers gathered in north Minneapolis near the site of the shooting on Wednesday afternoon.

They then marched to the Hennepin County Government Center, joining another group of several hundred demonstrators who had marched from Elliot Park. Together they pledged to pressure county, city and state leaders to reform police departments and to change the legal system. Many then returned to the site of the shooting.

Many who came out were incredulous that Freeman could have concluded the killing of Clark, an unarmed black man, was justified given that the officers had shot him just 61 seconds into the confrontation. “It just does not make sense,” Cameron noted. “We’re really hurt. It’s frustrating.”

“There was nothing accurate that he was saying,” Cameron said of Freeman. “They was all lies. That’s why it took them four months to even try to come up with these bull crap stories. I know they put it together. They was edited in the film.” 

Cameron also echoed the comments of others who questioned the lack of weight Freeman put on eyewitnesses who said they saw Clark handcuffed. “We got witnesses,” he said. “And Mike Freeman basically said, ‘forget what all these witnesses say, I’m going to believe those officers.’ That’s not right.”

Protesters listening to speakers on Wednesday afternoon
MinnPost photo by Ibrahim Hirsi
Protesters listening to speakers on Wednesday afternoon near the shooting of Jamar Clark last November.

Teto Wilson, who said he watched the shooting event of Jamar just a couple of feet from the scene, noted the account that Freeman relayed was different from what he saw. “Today when Mike Freeman was talking about what happened, I couldn’t believe what I was hearing,” Wilson told the protesters. “Because many of the things he was saying is not what my eyes saw. It was laughable; absolutely ridiculous.”

He added: “Jamar was not fighting for a gun. Jamar was on the ground. The cops had him under control. They had an agenda, and they killed Jamar.”

Comments (66)

  1. Submitted by Rodgers Adams on 03/31/2016 - 11:30 am.

    Puzzled

    Protesters at this, and other incidents around the country, have asked for access to the evidence. They seem to have gotten that access, but they were decrying the county attorney’s decision before he had even finished his presentation, let alone before they had taken the hours required to review it fully. What is the value of releasing the evidence, if protesters don’t examine it before passing judgment? The evidence collected may be incomplete. The interpretation of the evidence may be flawed. But how much credibility do the protesters have if they don’t study the evidence before responding to the decision?

    • Submitted by Helen Hunter on 04/03/2016 - 02:33 pm.

      Credibility to whom?

      I am a white Minnesota woman, 72 years old.
      I saw the same ignoring of eyewitnesses when Michael Brown was murdered in Ferguson, Missouri. I’ve seen a video in which a mentally disturbed and/or grief stricken young black man walked slowly toward multiple armed cops shouting “shoot me! Shoot me!” AND THEY DID. No attempt to talk him down or surround and peacefully take him into custody. Together with so many other citizens I’ve seen with horror and sorrow many other videos, of the murder of Eric Garner with an ILLEGAL CHOKE HOLD, and ones where cops, St Paul’s among them, gleefully andeillegally arrest someone for WAITING TO PICK UP HIS CHILDREN FROM DAY CARE! or FAILING TO SIGNAL A LANE CHANGE!
      Strangely, all these people arrested, injured, or killed are or were black and almost all the arresting cops are and still are white.
      These protesters have credibility with me and many other people of every ethnicity, age, race, and class because cops, prosecutors, grand juries and the federal “Dept. of Justice” are blatantly selecting who they will deliver their brand of justice to, which amounts to a license to kill for cops. In order not to upset the “criminal justice system”, they are allowing cops to be criminals.

  2. Submitted by Howard Salute on 03/31/2016 - 11:49 am.

    We have moved beyond opinions

    You report quotes like “Jamar was not fighting for a gun. Jamar was on the ground. The cops had him under control.” I get it, it is this guys opinion. But the facts tell a different story. Is it not more responsible to stick to the facts? Other than to sensationalize your story, why do you feel the need to report unsubstantiated/baseless opinions?

    Freeman released everything so the facts are known. We should all listen if someone can take these facts along with the scientific evidence and produce a legitimate different conclusion.

    Until then, it behooves everyone (reporters included) to keep emotions and unsubstantiated opinions out of the mix.

    • Submitted by Rachel Kahler on 03/31/2016 - 12:07 pm.

      Facts and opinions

      I agree that, if nothing else, opinions need to presented parallel with the facts. The video shows that the cop was NOT in control of the situation. Contrary to the witness’ opinion, the cop was flailing on the ground with his feet pointed up, which you can see even if you can’t see much else. It’s important to report the NEWS not just opinions. While I believe that the opinions are part of this news, they are not, themselves, the news.

      • Submitted by Jim Million on 03/31/2016 - 02:41 pm.

        Not the Opinions of “Reporters”

        Reporting the opinions of those involved in an incident certainly is reasonable, as long as the reporter keeps to the opinions of others by not unfairly shaping the story.

        We live in a blog world of opinion with occasional citation of preferred fact. Sometimes it’s pretty maddening (mostly tiresome) to mentally edit such writing for reality.

  3. Submitted by kevin terrell on 03/31/2016 - 12:10 pm.

    And what are those questions?

    Interesting headline… “Decision not to charge Minneapolis police officers sparks anger — and questions”. What exactly are those questions? A few come to mind for me:

    – Why was Clark’s DNA found on the officer’s gun and holster? Why was it not found on the handcuffs?
    – Why was Clark found to have been legally intoxicated and to have THC in his blood? Does that have any bearing on his frame of mind during the incident?
    – Why were the police there in the first place? What role did Clark play in that, and how did it affect the context of the encounter?
    – What does the one key video show, and what does it not show?
    – There are two broad sets of witnesses: officials who were on site, and bystanders. How might one characterize the statements of those two sets of people? Are there consistencies or inconsistencies in those statements, and how does any of that align with the DNA and other evidence?
    – Is it your position that the “system” planted evidence in order to falsely exonerate the officers?
    – You close with “The cops had him under control. They had an agenda, and they killed Jamar.” Do you have any evidence to support that rather bold statement? Or perhaps you just like having it linger, in order to cast aspersions on Freeman and to further your “narrative”? Naturally, YOU did not say that. You’re just reporting it.

    This could have been an interesting piece on the frustration of the community, and how we might move forward. Instead, it is propaganda meant to incite the masses. I’m not sure how that is helpful in solving the problems of everyday people.

    • Submitted by John Appelen on 03/31/2016 - 12:45 pm.

      Excellent Comment

      Great questions and comments.

      I think the vast majority of Minnesotans believe that this was an unfortunate incident for all involved, that a thorough investigation occurred and that the decision makes sense. Yet a huge amount of press is being given to the conspiracy believers who have their own agenda.

  4. Submitted by Joel Stegner on 03/31/2016 - 12:57 pm.

    What is to be learned from this?

    Mistakes were made in this case. Why not focus on them and learn something for the future.

    First, someone who has a criminal record learns that breaking the law has consequences. How do a person respond? Hopefully, by being law abiding. If you lose your temper when you drink or get high, don’t. If you are drunk and angry, show better judgment than beating up someone so they need to go to the hospital and the police are called. If the police come and you know you are going to be arrested, accept it and don’t resist. They will treat you differently if you resist arrest. And above all don’t get violent toward a police officer and grab for his gun. That will be considered attempted murder, where police are trained to protect themselves.

    This advice applies to all people. Yesterday elsewhere in the state a woman fired shots at the police, and was killed in return fire. Very sad case, but no immediate strong action. If someone takes an officer’s gun and threaten to or starts shooting, which also happens, and kills an officer, the police officers are exactly in the same boat as the people who suffered a loss. With the police, they do case review on the facts and sometimes change how they police to avoid violence. Some are suggesting the officer made a mistake by taking down the suspect, and that dislodged the gun belt. I am sure police will review that approach carefully.

    There are clear cases where police brutality occurs and if well documented, police can and are charged with murder, as they were not defending themselves and used lethal force. Here there was an assault by someone who was drunk and belligerent, the police were called and arrest was forcibly resisted. If any person makes those choices, they are not using their better judgment. If they are learning from their community that these unlawful things are OK and the right way to act, young people are not being prepared for the world they live in.

  5. Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 03/31/2016 - 01:10 pm.

    Dismissing eye witness testimony

    It would be stupid and irresponsible to rely on bad and unreliable evidence. Good investigators disregard unreliable evidence and observations, in fact, there’s no rational way to include unreliable information in an intelligent decision.

    Yes, I’ve seen a witness describe seeing Clark handcuffed on the ground with officers standing over him as they shot him in the head. The video, and 61 seconds it took from the time struggle began to the time Clark was shot conclusively refute that eyewitness testimony. And we always have to remember that such testimony is frequently the most unreliable of all evidence collected. Unreliable testimony should be discounted.

    • Submitted by Carrie Anderson on 04/01/2016 - 04:00 pm.

      But what about the two cops’ testimony?

      Why wasn’t it disputed? And where and in which video is this eyewitness’s testimony “conclusively refute[d]”? I just don’t understand why the cops’ statements were/are blindly believed when they had time to get their stories straight, and many witnesses (20 or so, according to various news articles), viewing from different angles, are all providing “bad and unreliable evidence.” I believe a trial may have ironed some of this out—or not—but it would have been a better way to go. I do understand that bringing cops to trial is almost impossible.

      • Submitted by Beth Daniels on 04/01/2016 - 08:28 pm.

        About the cops’ testimony

        I agree.

      • Submitted by Steve Titterud on 04/02/2016 - 12:01 pm.

        Bringing cops to trial is easy. It’s getting a conviction

        …that’s extremely difficult – because of what the law says and how the the Supreme Court has interpreted that law. I’m afraid Mr. Freeman’s careful explanation fell on a lot of deaf ears.

        Mr. Freeman spelled out, point by point, how the statements of the bystanders were contradicted by the facts and evidence – and therefore, given less credibility. On the other hand, the statements of law enforcement at the scene were supported by and consistent with the facts and evidence, and therefore assigned more credibility. This is no mystery – it is how testimony is weighed, and how it should be weighed.

        One problem here is that Ms. Levy-Pounds advises her community to ignore the obvious contradictions and complains that the all-over-the-map statements of bystanders were not given a higher degree of credibility. In terms of professionalism in prosecutorial decisions, Ms. Levy-Pounds could not carry Mr. Freeman’s loinstrap. She wants to use the criminal judicial process as a political tool, something Mr. Freeman does not engage in, and cannot, because of his professional responsibilities.

        The law and the evidence here simply does not offer a path to conviction of these policemen for murder. The criminal justice system’s notion of “Justice” does not comport with our ordinary, everyday notions of what Justice is.

        In the civil justice system, it will be an entirely different matter, as a jury will weigh this sorrowful, tragic, heart-breaking affair using their own understanding of justice and fairness.

        Obviously, this young man didn’t have to die in the altercation. If there is to be “justice” as we all understand it, it’s much more likely in the civil system. The law provides a nearly impenetrable iron ring of defense for the police in criminal matters, but not so in civil cases

        • Submitted by Helen Hunter on 04/03/2016 - 02:52 pm.

          “Mr Freeman’s Loinstrap”?

          Ms Levy-Pounds doesn’t need to ” carry Mr Freeman’s loinstrap” because she doesn’t have what he carries in it. Fortunately what he carries in it has nothing to do with knowing the law and how to prosecute criminals, and even more important, knowing what is criminal behavior.
          It is hard for me to credit that the writer believes that Mr Freeman does not and can not engage in political use of his position. Ms Levy-Pound disagrees with his interpretation in this case, as do I and many other people of every race, ethnicity, age and class. Those of us who are not black object to having this issue made to seem a simplistic black-people-on-one-side/all-white people-on-the-other. It’s far more complicated — and more simple — than that.

          • Submitted by Steve Titterud on 04/03/2016 - 09:01 pm.

            A colloquialism does not mean what it literally states,

            …which is apparently how you’ve taken it here. To say party A can’t carry party B’s jockstrap is a way of expressing their inequality in skill or experience.

            So to be clear: Ms. Levy-Pounds does not have the skill, experience, or professionalism of Mr. Freeman in matters of prosecutorial decision-making.

          • Submitted by Pat Terry on 04/04/2016 - 12:45 am.

            Interpretation

            In determining what is criminal behavior, Freeman is guided by the law and the evidence. And in following the law and the evidence in this case, Freeman reached the only conclusion he could. There really is not much interpretation involved.

            Levy-Pounds wants to ignore the evidence because it does not match her narrative. As an activist, she is not helping her cause. As a lawyer, she has made a fool of herself.

            • Submitted by John Appelen on 04/04/2016 - 09:59 pm.

              Agreed

              BLM and Levy-Pounds really need to find better examples of police aggression if they want to grow their credibility with the general public. Of course that will be a challenge because the police do a pretty great job given the chaos they work in daily. And if an officer clearly screws up, they charge or fire them.

  6. Submitted by Curt Carlson on 03/31/2016 - 01:52 pm.

    What if the decision had been different?

    What if Freeman had decided to punt – that is, to indict the officers and send the case to trial? Given the preponderance of the presented evidence, a jury would most likely have acquitted. Then what? Who would the NAACP and BLM folks blame then?

    There are legitimate questions to ask relative to police behavior in such situations: I wonder where deescalation comes into play? But in this incident as described in detail by Freeman, where an unpredictable bad actor, who had just abused his girlfriend, stood in the way of EMTs doing their legitimate job, it’s hard to see how a positive outcome was possible. To present this case as an example of a conspiracy can only serve to further delegitimize the protestors in the eyes of members of the community who might otherwise support their cause.

    • Submitted by Kenneth Kjer on 03/31/2016 - 01:56 pm.

      What if Freeman had decided to pun

      I completely agree with this observation..

    • Submitted by John Appelen on 03/31/2016 - 03:03 pm.

      Great Point

      How do the NAACP and BLM groups plan to get the general public to support their concerns when they continue to expend so much effort on cases that are questionable at best? (ie Michael Brown, Jamar Clark, etc) It reminds me of the little boy who cried wolf story.

      And when they continue to break the law, cause safety issues, etc while demonstrating.

      Instead they could focus on cases like the Levar Jones, Akai Gurley, etc shootings where the police really did screw up royally. Of course that would not support their “police are not punished” story line since those officers were punished.

      My point is that if BLM and NAACP folks want to be listened to, I think they should pick there cases more carefully and protest without putting other people and their property at risk

      • Submitted by Beth Daniels on 04/01/2016 - 08:30 pm.

        you can’t pick and choose

        Nobody deserves to be gunned down on the street. Not even “imperfect” people. That’s the bottom line.

        • Submitted by John Appelen on 04/03/2016 - 07:20 am.

          Imperfect

          This is not about “imperfect” people being gunned down in the street. This is about police officers who have a very difficult job to do being able to use deadly force when threatened.

          Jamar and Michael both made a choice to be confrontational, aggressive and threatening with the personnel we have armed and assigned to maintain law and order in our community. That was a poor choice…

    • Submitted by Beth Daniels on 04/01/2016 - 08:41 pm.

      what if?

      I agree there are legitimate questions to ask about police behavior in this and other situations and that police absolutely should have started off with de-escalation procedures. This article (http://minnesota.cbslocal.com/2016/03/31/rayann-hayes-jamar-clark/) by Rex Chapman refutes Freeman’s and the police officers’ assertion that Clark had just abused his girlfriend and was trying to stop the EMTs from doing their job. In my mind there is a subtle difference between a conspiracy to abuse power and systemic abuse of power. A conspiracy requires the parties involved to plan together to commit the abuse of power. Systemic abuse of power simply requires the parties to act in ways available to them within the prevailing system and power structure, in order to abuse power. I don’t know whether Freeman, the police, and others in positions of power colluded in this case. I can say with certainty that they all acted within the prevailing system and power structure to abuse power and take power from Jamar Clark and those who support his rights. Had the case gone to trial, perhaps some of these issues would be explored. (There’s no statute of limitation on murder, right? So charges could be brought at a later date, right?) The groups who have been working for justice for Jamar Clark have promoted the idea of having a special prosecutor, rather than Mike Freeman, in charge of prosecuting the case. It seems clear to me that this would be a necessity in order to go forward. Because clearly Mr. Freeman is not part of the solution here.

      • Submitted by Mike martin on 04/02/2016 - 10:59 pm.

        RayAnn Hayes stories not consistent

        The account that RayAnn Hayes gave to WCCO and the account she to the police 2 days after the shooting are very different. WCCO pointed this out in a separate report.

        In the police report
        she said she was or had been Jamar’s girl friend ( I can’t remember for sure which it was)
        Jamar was the person that injured her

        Hayes blamed the difference in her stories on being drugged up on pain killers when she talked to the police in the hospital.

        If there are major changes in someone’s story how creditable are they?

      • Submitted by Pat Terry on 04/03/2016 - 04:19 am.

        Refutes?

        The new statements by Hayes conflict with the other narratives (including her own) but certainly don’t refute it. Her complete lack of credibility reinforces the decision not to charge.

        Freeman did his job, and a special prosecutor would have reached the same conclusion. The officers would never have been convicted with the evidence here and should not be charged.

        Its unfair to say that Freeman is not part of a solution here. What is not part of the solution is making completely unsubstantiated claims about conspiracies. What is not part of the solution is ignoring the evidence – evidence that Freeman made available to the public.

        It is extremely unjust that so many African Americans die at the hands of police. This just wasn’t a good case to press that otherwise very valid point.

      • Submitted by Helen Hunter on 04/03/2016 - 03:29 pm.

        Well Said

        I agree with your statements about the difference between a conspiracy and systemic abuse of power. The identical statements and behaviors of prosecutors, grand juries, Chiefs of police and police officers in cases of officer shootings of citizens, across the country, points to systemic abuse of power.
        And some citizens chime in to justify the actions and motives of these officials. Possibly because the reality of a rogue system is too painful to bear. It is painful, to some people much more than to others.

  7. Submitted by Kenneth Kjer on 03/31/2016 - 01:54 pm.

    Eye witness accuracy

    There have been studies done about eye witness accuracy, all of have proven that eye witness information is fallible. A growing body of research now supports this speculation, indicating that mistaken eyewitness identification is responsible for more convictions of the innocent than all other factors combined. The Innocence Project determined that 75% of the 239 DNA exoneration cases had occurred due to inaccurate eyewitness testimony. It is important to inform the public about the flawed nature of eyewitness memory and the difficulties relating to its use in the criminal justice system so that eyewitness accounts are not viewed as the absolute truth.

    • Submitted by Harris Goldstein on 03/31/2016 - 04:25 pm.

      Add to this that, according the Freeman, the eyewitness accounts were contradictory. Some said not handcuffed, some said handcuffed with hands in front, and some said handcuffed with hands in back.

      Plus, when you factor in the fact that – by the police account – handcuffs were out and police were trying to put them on, the discrepancies become more understandable.

      Ironically, Lt. Kroll and Ms. Levy-Pounds were 2 peas in a pod on this one. Both came to a conclusion without seeing all the evidence.

      I do believe the 2 officers should not have been in the squad car together after the incident. Luckily there is video.

      And Freeman is to be commended.

    • Submitted by Helen Hunter on 04/03/2016 - 03:05 pm.

      Nor Should Police Testimony

      Be taken as absolute proof. Unlike most eyewitnesses, police officers who have used excessive or lethal force have strong incentives to minimize or even lie about what happened. This should be a universally understood factor in cases where citizens have been killed, injured, or wrongfully arrested.
      Eyewitnesses can certainly be mistaken. I knew this myself when I saw someone in the hall as I left a room in a public building, and returned to find my purse gone. When police picked someone up later, I was not sure he was the person I’d seen and I said so.
      But that’s a different situation from seeing someone arbitrarily mistreated, whether you know them or not. That’s traumatic and likely to be burned into your memory.
      We need radical (root) changes in how these cases are handled. One idea: a jury of the peers of the victim.

      • Submitted by Pat Terry on 04/04/2016 - 12:52 am.

        Testimony

        Police testimony is not taken as absolute truth. In this case forensic evidence was used, and that evidence backed up the police statements and showed that tye other witnesses were lying or wrong.

        These cases are subject to a jury of peers. But they don’t go to a jury where, as in this case, the evidence is so overwhelming that you would never get a conviction.

  8. Submitted by Steve Titterud on 03/31/2016 - 02:37 pm.

    To add to the points of Mr. Udstrand and Mr. Kjer,

    …eye-witness testimony is regarded as more reliable to the extent it is consistent with, or supported by, other evidence, especially physical evidence. It is regarded as less reliable to the extent it is contradicted by physical evidence.

    Mr. Freeman ably pointed out that certain witness statements or claims were supported by the physical evidence, while other witness statements were contradicted by the same types of “hard” evidence.

    He HAD TO weigh the reliability of those statements, in both directions. It does not work in the way Ms Levy-Pounds suggests – namely that if one party says “A” and another party says “not A”, then the issue must be put forth on trial. It depends on the reliability of those statements.

    The claim that the police first subdued Clark, put handcuffs on him, and then, while he lay there helpless, quiescent and under control, shot him in the head, is simply contradicted by the evidence. Yet this narrative continues, as though the evidence doesn’t matter – doesn’t matter at all. But it has to matter, if you’re the government attorney.

  9. Submitted by Shaina Brassard on 03/31/2016 - 06:44 pm.

    Disappointed by

    I find it very sad how so many readers- and Minnesotans- are choosing to so harshly judge a community that is grieving and has every right to be skeptical of the “justice” system. This is one police killing of so many. What happened was the paramedics called the police, some junior officers (one with an excessive force case against him from CA) arrived, and 61 seconds later someone was dead. If you saw or heard the video, after Jamar was shot, bystanders were screaming “Why did you do that?” in horror- they are traumatized and live in legitimate fear of something similar happening every day. Have some empathy, I urge you.

    Eye witness account and witness testimony IS NOT the same as “opinion.” I personally know some of the witnesses that feel their testimony was not taken seriously. It is clear that Freeman weighed the testimony of the police more heavily than other eye witnesses, and this is understandably beyond frustrating for many in the Black community, a community that has been used, abused and undervalued for centuries. This document has been circulating; please take a look: http://www.scribd.com/doc/306408851/Victim-Rayann-Hayes-Interview-Transcript-2

    I also think we need to de-emphasize the dichotomy of was he handcuffed or not. He may not have been handcuffed, but he was on the ground, with an officer on top of him. I find it very hard to believe he could have shot the officer, even if his hand was on his gun- it is logistically implausible. If the officer felt differently, I can’t help but think it has something to do with his assumptions about black men being inherently violent, dangerous, and super-human; this bias has been documented across the country.

    Also, 0.09 BAC is not drunk for an adult man. Only years ago, in the state of Minnesota, you could legally drive with a 0.1 BAC. Drinking is legal, and marijuana use is legal in many states- this is not a reason to be okay with the loss of Jamar’s life. The police are not the jury. The death penalty is not legal in Minnesota.

    This particular tragedy brings up so many tragedies. I just wish people that have nothing to do with it, and no real interaction with Black people due to our very segregated state, would have compassion and allow people to feel their feelings, without discounting their pain, their intellectual ability to weigh facts/evidence, and their desire for systemic change.

    • Submitted by kevin terrell on 03/31/2016 - 07:34 pm.

      facts, who needs ’em?

      0.09 BAC is, and has been, beyond the legal limit for a decade. Marijuana probably should be legal in Minnesota, but it is not. Regardless, the question I posed was how that might have played a role in Clark’s actions, not whether or not it made okay for him to die. Both drugs perhaps played a role in causing him to be unresponsive to the officers.

      As for the handcuffs – it was (is) a popular myth that he was handcuffed and then shot. So it seems sort of relevant to the discussion. At least, it does if you care about surmising the facts.

      Do you own a handgun? Is it a good idea to just grab someone else’s gun? If someone grabbed your gun during a struggle, what might you conclude about his intentions? What about having your hand on a gun and holster makes it logistically implausible to shoot a man who is on top of you? Even if you thought it implausible, is it reasonable for your partner to not wait and find out the answer to that question? Particularly if he pauses long enough to tell the person to stop what he is doing.

      And if anyone, much less a cop, points a gun at your head and says “stop doing that or I am going to shoot you”, what do you think is the best course of action?

      Finally, I’m very sorry Clark died, and I have no problem with people venting their emotions. But I do have a problem with a “journalistic” outlet presenting propaganda as fact. This entire article, from headline to closing line, is propaganda.

    • Submitted by John Appelen on 03/31/2016 - 08:43 pm.

      Contributing Factors

      One of my favorite concepts is “contribution”. Very simple stated… Rarely is one party or action responsible for a resulting consequence. However often people want to blame someone or something when bad things happen. In this case Jamar’s and the police’s behavior both contributed to a very bad consequence…I have not read anywhere where people are saying that the officers performed well in this tragic situation. I only hear that they did not break the law.

      Now you can choose to point a finger at the officers and ignore the fact that Jamar was drunk, high and threatening enough that the paramedics locked themselves in the ambulance until the police came. Personally I think that is doing a disservice to your local police and community. Please remember that these officers risk their lives often by walking into these highly emotional disputes. They don’t get to hit a rewind button or second guess themselves.

      Now I do empathize with your loss, and the fear you live with. I only ask what would your lives be if these officers were not willing to walk into harms way every night? Apparently 124 of them in the USA died in the line of duty in 2015. What do you think they should do if the suspect refuses to take their hands out their pocket? What would you do if you were the officer?

      Again it takes 2 to argue. That is the concept of contribution.

    • Submitted by Rachel Kahler on 04/01/2016 - 09:52 am.

      I’m sorry

      Up front, I will say that I’m sorry for the pain that friends and family of Mr. Clark are suffering. He should not have had to die.

      Second, I will say that it IS a problem that people that live in the North Minneapolis area feel like they’re not being heard. Absolutely it’s a problem. In this case, however, feeling as though a witness account which is inconsistent with hard evidence wasn’t heard is a different problem. It’s a problem that suggests that it’s not about justice, it’s about attention. I can’t accept that it’s more important that someone be heard than actual justice be served.

      I will say that I don’t think that, by itself, Clark’s use of alcohol and/or marijuana is a problem. However, I’ve seen the effects of alcohol on lots of different people over the years. There are people who are happy drunks (and at 0.09, you’re feeling it), and there are dangerous drunks. I am automatically on guard when I am near anyone who is drunk, particularly men, because I’ve seen sullenness, unpredictability, and violence from them.

      I’ve also seen my share of people high on marijuana. I’ve never seen anyone violent on marijuana (of course, I’m not aware of anyone I’ve seen both drunk and high at the same time, I guess), but pretty universally, the people I’ve seen high on marijuana act like complete dopes (hence the term “dope” for the drug itself). It’s one of the reasons I’ve never tried marijuana or any other drug. Mind altering drugs like marijuana do exactly that, alter your mind.

      Being high and drunk does not, itself, justify Mr. Clark’s death. But that does not mean that he didn’t do something stupid enough to justify the use of deadly force. Not that he was stupid all alone in this situation. Now that I’m aware of all the details available, I believe that one or both of those cops should be fired, and barred from carrying a gun (at least as a police officer) ever again. While every situation is the result of many, many decisions, and Clark made more than one poor decision, which did justify the use of deadly force, both of those cops also made bad decisions that contributed to the situation in which Clark COULD make his final decision, making the decision to pull the trigger all but inevitable.

      Yes, there does need to be systemic change. This incident is only one of many that support that conclusion. We need to demilitarize the cops. We need to be more careful when selecting cops (too many power nuts who want guns in police forces). We need to emphasize deescalation. We need a no-excuses for racism policy. But…sometimes justice isn’t a happy situation. Unfortunately, indicting the police officer’s in Clark’s case is not justice. Though, I do hope they are fired and never allowed to be cops again.

    • Submitted by Tim Milner on 04/01/2016 - 06:34 pm.

      I very much appreciate your perspective

      even though I personally disagree with it.

      The one thing in this entire narrative that would change my opinion would be a statement from someone in the community, (BLM, Justice4Jamal, the NAACP, anyone) that domestic violence is not acceptable in anyway in the community.

      Because without the domestic violence call, placed by woman, this entire situation does not happen!!

      Think about that for a minute. The police were not patrolling the street. They were not looking for anyone. They responded for a call for help.

      This is not judging anyones action. Like a Monday morning quarterback, it’s clear to everyone, now that it is over, that many things by many people can and should, in the future, be done different. I expect that many practices will be reviewed, possibly changed, and training intensified.

      So I pray that the community, in its hurt, finds a way to also communicate the message – violence against anyone, especially women and children, is not to be tolerated.

    • Submitted by Helen Hunter on 04/03/2016 - 04:09 pm.

      Good Points

      I agree with you. Eyewitnesses to killing are not merely “offering their opinions”, and to characterize it as that is to minimize the situation and show concept for their ability to report what they saw. As you said, they were traumatized. Witnessing murder, or killing, or violent death, is traumatizing. We are not living in a movie, where only “bad” people get killed and only “good guys” kill them!
      “The police are not the jury” and “the death penalty isn’t legal in Minnesota” particularly struck me: the actions of police have introduced a de facto death penalty to people perceived as poor and dangerous (which to too many of us is the same thing). Many black, Hispanic and immigrant people are middle class, and if they are poor, why is that seen as proof of moral inferiority and used to justify calling them names and even shooting them?
      The actions of prosecutors, juries and Chiefs of Police in minimizing, delaying action, covering up, and justifying killings by cops has the effect of legalizing this de facto and illegal death penalty.
      You are right that most of us white people know nothing about black people’s lives. Therefore, what we most need to do is listen and reflect, not pass judgment on what we don’t know enough about.

      • Submitted by John Appelen on 04/03/2016 - 08:26 pm.

        Bias Goes Both Ways

        A. If the witnesses were at the party, had they been drinking and smoking with Jamar?
        B. Just as some police officers can have a bias that affects what they see/do, some citizens have a bias that affects what they see/do.
        C. The science showed that the handcuffs were not on the suspect, thus those who insisted they were had been mistaken.
        D. Where were the witnesses standing? Was their vantage as good as that of the officers?

        If you don’t like the word opinion… Then how about they are offering their perspective from where they were standing, what visibility they had, what biases they carry, how awake or sober they were, etc

  10. Submitted by Howard Salute on 03/31/2016 - 09:17 pm.

    North Minneapolis dangerous area

    The Strib is reporting tonight that “Police statistics show that 59 people were shot in the city — 47 of them in north Minneapolis — from the beginning of the year to March 28, the last date for which reliable data were available.”

    Regarding officer’s feelings, Shaina states “can’t help but think it has something to do with his assumptions about black men being inherently violent, dangerous… ”

    I don’t necessarily think people agree with Shaina’s term “inherently violent” but it does seem indisputable North Mpls is where the majority of violent crimes are committed. Smarter people than me might explain why this area has the highest violent crime rate.

    As a peace officer or a resident, I’d be on high alert in North Mpls. Common sense? Hard to blame these facts and resulting “high alert” on the police officers responding.

  11. Submitted by Jim Million on 03/31/2016 - 11:42 pm.

    Summer of ’68

    Only two years to go to the 50th anniversary.

    I can wait…

  12. Submitted by Beth Daniels on 04/01/2016 - 08:25 pm.

    Why shoot?

    Here’s my question: Why didn’t the officers approach the situation with de-escalation in mind? Why did they go from walking onto the scene, encountering an unarmed young man who was misbehaving, to shooting him in the head in 61 seconds? I can’t say whether or not it was justifiable to do “something” to settle him down, but using deadly force should be the absolute last resort. Our criminal code in Minnesota does not allow for the death penalty, even if a person has committed murder. (I agree with that, by the way.) So, why is it “justifiable” to shoot a suspect on the street? That makes no sense. I don’t buy into the idea that police are justified in killing someone if they believe they are in danger. I’m sorry, but knowing what we know about bias and how bias makes people imagine dangers that do not exist — there’s just no reason to allow anyone to shoot someone because they “believed” they might get hurt.

    So, I say again — Why didn’t the officers approach the situation with de-escalation in mind? How did they allow themselves to arrive on the scene and end up shooting to kill — a shot to the head — within 61 seconds? It’s just not right. It is not justifiable. They have failed to properly discharge their duties and should be held accountable at every level.

    • Submitted by John Appelen on 04/02/2016 - 07:54 am.

      encountering an unarmed young man

      How would they know this? Please remember that he refused to remove his hands from his pockets…

      Thoughts?

      • Submitted by Pat Berg on 04/02/2016 - 06:31 pm.

        Well, for one thing . . . .

        Well, for one thing, instead of the peremptory “Take your hands out of your pockets!”, they could have expended an extra moment’s effort to say “Please take your hands out of your pockets so we can see that you are not armed”.

        Everything doesn’t have to be totally authoritarian all the time, and sometimes a gentler push will result in far less pushback.

        I know, that doesn’t square with the whole “I’m a cop and all I’m supposed to to have to do is demand compliance” model. But maybe, just maybe, the “unquestioning compliance” model ain’t all it’s cracked up to be when it comes to deescalating a situation.

      • Submitted by chuck holtman on 04/03/2016 - 09:21 am.

        From Mr. Freeman’s chronology:

        “The officers again and repeatedly told Clark to take his hands out of his jacket pockets. Clark continued to refuse to do so. Ringgenberg put his gun back in his holster and grabbed Clark’s right wrist while Schwarze grabbed Clark’s left hand. Schwarze had his handcuffs out but said he was never able to get them on Clark. In the ensuing struggle, Schwarze dropped his handcuffs.”

        Each officer had one of Mr Clark’s hands. He was unarmed. Sixty-one seconds from arriving on the scene to executing an unarmed man with a point-blank shot to the head.

        • Submitted by John Appelen on 04/03/2016 - 08:17 pm.

          Unarmed

          So let’s envision this… Jamar refuses to pull his hands out of his pockets. The officers go to physically remove them to put the hand cuffs on… Then as you say “a struggle ensues” when Jamar physically resists the officers. Next thing Jamar is on the ground and reaching for the officer’s gun…

          Sorry… Jamar brought this upon himself…

          Now I am a bit of a Libertarian, but if the police officers we hire to keep us safe ask a citizen to take their hands out of their pocket. The citizen should do so without question. I am curious why anyone would question this simple respectful action.

          By the way, if Jamar did have a gun and had killed one of the officers… How would your perspective change? I am sure happy it is them doing that job rather than me.

          • Submitted by Jim Million on 04/04/2016 - 07:48 am.

            Truly SOP

            Yes, Standard Operating Procedure. To deny civil authority is foolishness, not simple civil disobedience. This event has become another harsh lesson, one that clearly catalyzes predisposed views.

            Ignoring commands of law officers is flagrantly foolish. Anyone with reasonable thought process knows they live with daily degrees of stress. In too many situations they simply cannot know how immediate to them theoretical threat may be. Their mission “to protect and serve” includes themselves, as well as public interests.

            Any driver who has been pulled over to the roadside likely recalls being told to “place your hands on the steering wheel, where I can see them.” Why? Because far too many officers have been shot when making a routine traffic stop.

            “Take your hands out of your pockets” is equally routine. To refuse is to beg consequences of ensuing actions, usually minor in nature, but sometimes not.

          • Submitted by chuck holtman on 04/04/2016 - 08:28 am.

            OK, you’ve convinced me:

            Anyone who doesn’t follow a directive of a police officer should be immediately shot in the head.

            I didn’t review all of the evidence, but I certainly didn’t review what you appear to have. Mr Freeman’s chronology did not state that Mr Clark “reached” for Officer Schwarze’s gun. After determining that Mr Clark was not armed, the officers sought to handcuff him. Mr Clark – somewhat drunk, somewhat high, somewhat anxious – did not cooperate and the handcuffs fell to the ground. At this point (and this is a matter of seconds – no second attempt to put on the cuffs), Officer Ringgenberg decided to employ the escalation approach and “take Clark to the ground” using a little trick he picked up in San Diego. Unfortunately for Mr Clark, Officer Ringgenberg ended up on his back on top of Mr Clark, with his gun behind him and between him and Mr Clark. Did Mr Clark grip Officer Ringgenberg’s gun? Or were his arms wedged under Officer Ringgenberg’s body against his gun? We’ll never know, and it doesn’t matter. If a police officer’s risky, unnecessary and incompetently performed maneuver ends up with your hand near his gun, you’re dead.

            Life out in the world isn’t the same as high tea in your living room, with everyone considerately responding to each others polite requests. People are difficult for all sorts of reasons that don’t justify their point-blank execution. There are effective approaches other than escalate and kill.

            Yes, if Mr Clark had a gun, my perspective would be different. Also if he had a handheld nuclear device or had been driving a tank.

            • Submitted by Jim Million on 04/04/2016 - 09:03 am.

              DNA Findings

              Please read or watch a replay of Mike Freeman’s report to the public.

              You will find your answers there.

            • Submitted by Carrie Anderson on 04/04/2016 - 10:03 am.

              Thank you.

              Well stated.

            • Submitted by John Appelen on 04/04/2016 - 11:16 am.

              Correction

              Here is a correction to your statement.

              “Anyone who doesn’t follow a legal directive of a police officer may be forcefully made to comply, and if that individual during the struggle chooses to grab for the officers gun they may possibly be shot in the head.”

              Charles,
              Are you recommending that officers should just stand there and talk to an irate person who may have a gun in their pocket?

              Please remember that Jamar was not your typical law abiding citizen. He had a record and a history of endangering the public.
              http://www.startribune.com/jamar-clark-was-involved-in-another-confrontation-with-minneapolis-police-in-july/361147991/

              I am not sure why so many people want to deny the reality of his past.

              • Submitted by chuck holtman on 04/04/2016 - 05:13 pm.

                You continue to make a straw argument

                At the time Officer Ringgenberg decided to “take” Mr Clark to the ground, the officers had determined that he did NOT have a gun in his pocket. At that point he was simply a difficult but unarmed scofflaw. I do not claim any expertise in police techniques, but as a layperson I think it is obvious that when you are dealing with a difficult scofflaw, your techniques should be oriented toward de-escalating, not escalating, and that above all, you don’t take an action that is both unnecessary and carries a risk of arming the previously unarmed scofflaw with your own gun.

                Again, where is the evidence that Mr Clark was “grabbing for” Officer Ringgenberg’s gun? Mr. Freeman’s chronology didn’t say that at all. Officer Ringgenberg fell onto Mr Clark on his back, and when he reached behind him, he could feel Mr Clark’s hand on his gun. That could mean many things, particularly given Mr Clark’s condition. It could mean that his arm was pinned under Officer Ringgenberg’s body. It could mean as he was falling backward, he grabbed by reflex and caught Officer Ringgenberg’s service belt as they fell together to the ground. Etc. In the instant, under the law as the US Supreme Court has declared it, it doesn’t matter what the facts were or what Mr Clark’s intent was. All that mattered was that a situation now existed that Officer Schwarze, in the instant of panicked apprehension, could perceive as a violent threat to his partner. From what has been presented Mr. Freeman’s decision not to prosecute appears clearly to be correct. But that this is true is the strongest evidence of how profoundly wrong is the policy of escalation and was Officer Ringgenberg’s decision to engage in acrobatics with the intoxicated Mr Clark.

                Mr Clark’s record was irrelevant. The police certainly have the right to exercise authority and force to ensure that someone they are confronting is not holding a gun, whether that person has a record or not. Once they determined that Mr Clark was not holding a gun, he became just one more difficult scofflaw.

                • Submitted by John Appelen on 04/04/2016 - 09:52 pm.

                  Record

                  My only point in bringing up his record is because so many people are trying to paint him as some sweet law abiding agreeable young man. This plays to their painting the officers as the uncontrolled aggressors. Unfortunately this sweet young man had just 4 months previously stolen a car, sped down residential streets at 70 mph and physically resisted arrest. This helps me understand why the paramedics may have been scared of him and why the officers wanted cuffs on him ASAP.

                  So of course his record is relevant… Past actions may not be a perfect predictor of future behavior, but it is a pretty good one. (ie often a tiger doesn’t change his stripes)

                  Along these same lines, Officer Ringgenberg was sued for excessive force and false arrest in 2012, while he was a San Diego police officer. The civil case was later dropped. It may mean something or nothing, but it is important to consider.

  13. Submitted by beryl john-knudson on 04/03/2016 - 06:41 pm.

    Red and yellow black and white…who’s precious in their ‘sights

    In all due respect to all parties involved:

    When deadly force is considered the final solution and happens too often lately, when does it become a form of instant control, assassination as due process dies with the dead suspect?

    In all due respect, I repeat, yet do question naively, yes, let’s at least consider the possibility of a carefully chosen, civil representative go along on any such police call to be present, on all cases that may represent the possibility of deadly force being used?

    And why the head shot; with its military parallel stance? Legal minds need to weigh in on this, at least after the fact?

    Then again I suppose change won’t come until equal injustice comes sooner than we think:

    Consider a hypothetical case where white Uncle Ole goes to the hardware store to get a piece of plummer’s pipe about the size of the barrel of a shot gun and drops the old pipe between the seats…along comes Joe the parking attendant, sees the pipe and calls the cops – this is not a joke; could happen?

    Cops arrive like a swat team on the ready; guns pointed at Ole who slowly – old bones- extracts himself from the van, reaching into his pocket for I.D,drivers license…bang, bang six guns on the ready? It can happen here so if you can’t identify with tragedy here… no matter what the color of your skin or your street address, at least think about?

    When deadly force becomes the instant tea bag to solve whatever the public deeds perceived write Due Process on your local blackboards how many times…we just could be losing it to a society in your neighborhood too. The question is not a four-letter word whatever the situation? Thanks for the space

    • Submitted by Jim Million on 04/04/2016 - 08:02 am.

      The “head shot”

      When a civilian has gun in hand with apparent intent to use it on any officer (as in this incident) the authorized response is a fatal shot. In this case, that shot was fired after confirmation.

      All citizens need to know these facts of encounter and response.

    • Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 04/04/2016 - 10:42 am.

      Why the head shot?

      In close quarters where your target is physically in contact with someone you don’t want to shoot, you have to select a target area that is both clear and disabling. In this case that meant a head shot.

    • Submitted by John Appelen on 04/04/2016 - 11:05 am.

      Whatever the Situation

      I am confused, the metro has thousands of officers dealing with 10’s of Thousands of incidents yearly. And very rarely does the officer or the suspect get shot dead.

      How do you jump to the conclusion that deadly force has in anyway become the norm? Rationale?

  14. Submitted by beryl john-knudson on 04/04/2016 - 10:42 am.

    The ” head’ shot standard police procedure?

    Thanks for Millon’s clarification on “head shots” as official response. I will inform my other uncle…

    • Submitted by Rachel Kahler on 04/04/2016 - 01:24 pm.

      Mr. Million

      is not wrong. See, also, Mr. Udstrand’s response. Why in the head? Well, deadly force is just that–deadly. Cops aren’t in the position to get all squeamish about whether the head is an unpopular choice of targets. The situation in this case was this: 1. Clark acted violently, resulting in significant injury to a person and cops being called; 2. Clark presents himself as violent (according to paramedics, banging on ambulance door); 3. Clark presents himself as belligerent and potentially armed after proving to be violent; 4. Cop screwed up on take down (fire him!), and cop ends up on top of Clark with Clark’s back to the ground and the cop’s back to Clark, 4. DNA evidence corroborates statement by cop that Clark was working on possession of the cop’s gun, 5. Cop informs other cop about Clark’s apparent intent to gain control of his gun; 6. Other cop, must use deadly force to prevent control of gun and potential deadly violence by Clark. So…considering that the first cop’s body is covering the main mass of Clark’s, there’s only 1 real target that can be used–the head. What’s the alternative?

    • Submitted by Jim Million on 04/04/2016 - 03:31 pm.

      Please do so…

      and please use the term “authorized,” and not your term “official.” The first is not one of requirement.

  15. Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 04/04/2016 - 11:22 am.

    You can’t demand “justice” without defining it

    We have a universally accepted construct of: “Justice” as being the result of due process. Nowhere is: “Justice” defined as that which someone demands. We don’t charge people with crimes because the community demands it, and we don’t want to… as general rule that’s actually the difference between what call “justice” and lynching.

    The problem with these justice for Jamar demands was always the implicit assumption that justice could ONLY be defined by the indictment of the officers involved regardless of the evidence. This demand simply alienates those making such demands and undermines their credibility. Some of us have been trying to point this out for months.

    Most of us agree that our law enforcement regime is militarized and oppressing communities of color with excessive force and violence, but individual circumstances are not irrelevant. There is a difference between assaulting someone who was merely sitting in a public sky-way and shooting a someone who’s engaged in a physical struggle with police.

    And I’m sorry but we cannot make due process a component of the grieving process, we can’t charge people with crimes simply to provide “closure”.

    The scenario that Clark was handcuffed on the ground while police stood over him and shot him in the head or executed him was NOT rejected out of hand, it was rejected because it was effectively refuted by the evidence. This is how we resolve conflicting accounts, we look at the evidence. There’s simply no way police engage Clark, struggle, get him handcuffed and on the ground, and then stand over him and shoot him… in 61 seconds. That’s not what we see on the video, and that’s not what the DNA evidence or even the gunshot wound evidence tells us.

    And sure we can talk about the take-down etc. etc. but we also have to talk about why Clark didn’t simply take his hands out of his pockets? We can talk about how the police escalated this, but we also have to talk about how Clark escalated this. That doesn’t mean Clark deserved to die but you can’t ignore Clark’s behavior or decisions.

    • Submitted by Anthony Walsh on 04/06/2016 - 12:23 pm.

      Giving weight, not ignoring

      One of the parties was and is trained to deal with people like the dead guy. One would think that includes people with mental issues or are just plain intoxicated. Apparently, this training includes escalating when the subject doesn’t do what you want soon enough, and when one can use and justify force. This party was in control of the situation.

      The other party apparently received no training in how to deal with police, and apparently wasn’t sufficiently terrified to just go completely limp at an officer’s touch. But claiming its escalation or any sort of aggression to keep your hands in your pockets for seconds longer than you are told, without being told why? What was the rush, again?

      For some reason I am reminded of protestors arrested for resisting arrest for reflexively raising their arms to protect their faces from being beaten or sprayed.

      You know just from driving to work everyday that people often react stupidly to unusual situations. It’s a good thing it’s a felony to point a gun at someone in that circumstance.

  16. Submitted by beryl john-knudson on 04/05/2016 - 11:42 am.

    A form of closure exists and can’t change that., but..

    …and yet again, no closure here seems to weigh in as satisfactory? Too many raggedy ends to debate; too many facts that give citizens no secure, future endings…like what next, like what will happen as the future tells us nothing, yet?

    But let’s say it were possible that the victims – and they are all victims here – be it the dead one or the live ones who are answerable to another authority. be it law inforcement or private judgments made…who really knows truth here?

    But let’s say again… suppose the three had the opportunity to meet sans guns and vicious threats… in some after dream call it…what would they say? Start with an insecure premise that every man has a soul and if the three would be given the afterthought as opportunity, to respond in kind,…certainly what cannot happen, but?
    .
    Could assume too at this point; in the spirit of the moment, if there is a god he’s not telling.. call this a do it yourself world , and that’s okay…

    Maybe Farley Mowat is right – the Canadian writer who found wolves more gentle than people:

    ” We’re under some gross misconception that we’re a good species, going somewhere important, and at the last minute we’ll correct our errors and God will smile on us. it’s an illusion.”Farley Mowat. This is enough closure for me…have a good one.

    My last comment…who really knows?

  17. Submitted by Bill Willy on 04/05/2016 - 12:41 pm.

    Propensity

    In reading Ibrahim Hirsi’s pieces on this topic and all of the comments to this point, one of the main things I’ve noticed is the majority of commenter’s propensity to accept and defend the officer’s and Mr. Freeman’s statements (primarily) as the gold standard of evidence against which all views must be measured.

    Or something like that. The long and short is there seems to be a certain amount of “Open and Shut Slamdunkism” that has been happening since about 10 minutes after Mr. Freeman got done saying what he had to say (way back) on March 30th which has made me wonder ever since how many of those referring to and defending that gold standard evidence have listened to his statement or, maybe more importantly, taken a close look at what some of that evidence actually says.

    I mention that because there’s one relatively small chunk of it contained in a handful of paragraphs in the “Clark Chronology” section of Mr. Freeman’s online statement that I’m surprised hasn’t raised more questions than it maybe should have.

    Take a (or another) look at the five paragraphs under the headings “MPD Officers Arrive” and “Clark Grabs for Ringgenberg’s Gun” (on page two) and see it you see anything (fundamental and practical as can be) that doesn’t seem to quite add up.

    http://www.hennepinattorney.org/~/media/Attorney/NEWS/2016/jamar-clark-case/speech-clark-chronology-3-30-16.pdf?la=en

    And then, if you’ve got time and are curious, do a little searching on Mark Ringgenberg’s and Dustin Schwarze’s work history or law enforcement experience (be sure to include San Diego in your M R search and, for bonus points, throw in “Fred Clark, Jr.” on that one and “tasering” in your D S search).

    See if you see anything that makes you wonder why they (the primary eye-witnesses in this case) were hired in the first place and why anyone who’s serious about “deescalation, better community communications and relations” would ever partner them up and put them in an after-midnight North Minneapolis-bound squad car.

    • Submitted by John Appelen on 04/05/2016 - 06:12 pm.

      Reviewed

      I reviewed their past “possible transgressions”. It looks like nothing ever came of the accusations / suits. You will need to clarify your “doesn’t add up” perception.

      As for Gold Standard… They are human so I am sure there are inconsistencies, gaps, etc. However they were also sober, near the action, etc. Also, apparently the physical evidence aligned with their report. It sounds like Freeman used the old saying. “trust but verify”

      I am so puzzled what the rational is for wanting to tear down 2 officers, while putting a convicted criminal and the witnesses / party goers on pedestals… Do you still believe that Jamar was handcuffed when he was shot? Even though the physical evidence shows otherwise. What will it take to convince folks that the witnesses who claimed this got it wrong?

      • Submitted by Bill Willy on 04/07/2016 - 12:14 pm.

        Who said anything being handcuffed?

        I didn’t (and haven’t) said anything about Jamar Clark being handcuffed when he was shot so I don’t know why you ask if I still believe he was.

        And, along the same lines, I haven’t said anything about what any witnesses have said (officers, party goers or anyone else). I referenced Mr. Freeman’s “Clark Chronology” statement and said I’m a little surprised almost no one seems to have any questions about anything related to the paragraphs I referenced in that document.

        As you will recall if you saw or heard Mike Freeman’s March 30th press conference, that’s pretty much what he encouraged people to do. That’s why, he said, his office had put all of the evidence on the county’s web site.

        But, apparently, in your book, encouraging people to do that — to look closely at that evidence and think about it, maybe even (God forbid!) question it — is, in your mind, an attempt to “tear down 2 officers.”

        Regarding those “possible transgressions” and law suits that it “looks like nothing came of,” part of what I did for a living a few years back was oversee and manage the process of doing, reviewing and participating in the hiring (or not) decisions related to somewhere around 6,000 or 7,000 criminal background checks (over four or five years) that were required for people applying for various positions at the company I worked with.

        Won’t bore you with the details or subtleties of how all that works when it comes to the risk management and liability decision making process involved, but I can tell you, based on just the “publicly available information” (never mind an in-depth background check, previous employer and reference contacts, etc.) there’s a high probability that the two officers would not have been hired to work in any position in which “ultimate safety and security” and “deescalation, public communications and community relations” were an integral part of the job description.

        That isn’t to say they shouldn’t have been hired to do something related to MPD law enforcement (dispatching or working in an area like “prisoner intake” at the county jail, for example) and has nothing to do with trying to “tear down officers.” But, on the face of things — and from nothing more than the “cold hard conservative business perspective” (leaving out the “right or wrong” of things) — hiring them to fill the positions they filled while being aware of those “possible transgressions” and the circumstances involved in those things (assuming they weren’t just “accusations” or if there were multiple similar examples) is not a wise thing to do in terms or “risk management” and “containing liability costs.”

        Simple rough example: If you hire someone with multiple DUIs on their record (more than two in the past five or ten years) to drive a delivery truck and they happen to plow into and injure someone and a breath test shows they had ANY alcohol in their system (.01, say, like a person with a hangover may have the next day) you will: A) Almost certainly lose any lawsuit brought against you; and B) your “punitive damages” will most likely “escalate substantially.”

        If your defense is, “We weren’t aware of the employee’s DUI history,” the judge will say you should have been and, therefore, did not do your “due dilligence.”

        If your defense is, “We were aware of the employee’s DUI history but we were reasonably sure they had taken steps to address the problem and that they were continuing to do so,” the judge will say that if they met your qualifications standards you may have done well to hire them to work in any non-driving position, but you were negligent when you hired them to drive any of your company’s vehicles.

        “Judgment for the plaintiff to the tune of . . .”

        If you’re curious about how some of those details and subtleties can (and often do) come into play and how wrong and expensively things can go if they’re not done correctly as possible (before people are hired) have a cup of coffee with your company’s HR director and talk to them about it sometime. . . If you do that be sure to ask what he or she thinks the chances are that the City of Minneapolis will end up having to pay relatively staggering (civil) damages in this case and what part hiring the officers in the first place MIGHT play in that.

        (And by the way, “just to be clear,” none of that is to say the MPD didn’t do their pre-hiring due diligence. No doubt they have a screening system that is as rigorous and professional as they’ve been able to make it and at least as thorough as that of any organization in MN. It very well could be that they looked into each officer’s background thoroughly and came to the conclusion that the incidents and fallout highlighted by “sensational media types” were indeed, as you put it, nothing more than “possible transgressions” and empty accusations and that they were more than reasonably comfortable that the officers would do a fine job. Unfortunately, when it comes to some other aspects of the law, even that cannot be quite enough sometimes.)

        And speaking of (non-“party goers on pedestals” type) people trying to tear down two officers by questioning things, you’ve no doubt seen and looked into some of the articles in the local press that have popped up over the past couple days:

        “Expert: DNA no ‘truth serum’ despite conclusion in Clark shooting”

        http://www.mprnews.org/story/2016/04/06/expert-dna-no-truth-serum

        “Ex-Chief Tony Bouza says two cops should have been charged in Clark’s death

        ” ‘The law requires that officers can only use deadly force when deadly force is being used against them or someone in the area is using deadly force,’ Bouza said.”

        http://www.startribune.com/ex-chief-tony-bouza-says-two-cops-should-have-been-charged-in-clark-s-death/374828131/

        • Submitted by John Appelen on 04/07/2016 - 02:49 pm.

          Convicted vs Dismissed

          Simple. If someone is convicted of DUI, they were deemed guilty by the law. If someone is sued and the case is dismissed… There is a fair to good chance they did nothing wrong. That is a pretty big difference.

          Sorry for misunderstanding “accept and defend the officer’s and Mr. Freeman’s statements (primarily) as the gold standard”. I thought you were on the “other testimony is being discounted track.

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