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Mayor Hodges, Chief Harteau, Police Union Head Respond To Jamar Clark Ruling

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) -- Minneapolis mayor, police chief and the president of the police officers union responded Wednesday to the Hennepin County Attorney's ruling that the two officers involved in the November 2015 shooting death of Jamar Clark will not face charges.

Mayor Betsy Hodges said after the ruling that it has a hard day for everyone in Minneapolis and that many are feeling hurt, angry, disappointed and frustrated.

Betsy Hodges
Mayor Betsy Hodges (credit: CBS)

"My heart breaks for the loss of Jamar Clark's life, and for the pain felt by everyone involved in this incident. There is a tear that has ripped through our community, one we cannot sew back up. And together as a city and a people, we can walk through this tear to build what we all want — a city that is safe and equitable for everyone." Hodges said in a statement.

Related: Timeline Of The Jamar Clark Case

Soon after the decision, community activists and members of Black Lives Matter Minneapolis headed to the scene where Clark died. There are plans for protests as a result of the ruling Wednesday in Minneapolis.

Hodges said she supports the community's right to express emotions and demonstrate peacefully.

"It is as much the job of the City of Minneapolis to facilitate the peaceful expression of free speech as it is to keep everyone safe: residents, businesses, visitors, police officers, bystanders and demonstrators," Hodges said.

Chief Janeé Harteau said Wednesday the situation is a tragedy for everyone, including the Clark family and Minneapolis officers.

Chief Janeé Harteau
Chief Janeé Harteau (credit: CBS)

Related: Minn. Politicians Speak Out On Jamar Clark Decision

Harteau reiterated that while the community has the right to protest, the city's top priority is to keep the public safe as well as those expressing their First Amendment rights. She also emphasized that demonstrators not block emergency vehicles and first responders whose job it is to protect and serve the public.

"It's obviously been tragic for everyone, including the Clark family, but also including our officers," Harteau said.

Harteau said the department has contingency plans in the event that there are protests at or near the Fourth Precinct. She said officers will exercise restraint, and their actions will be based on the actions of others.

Related: MPD Chief. Union Head Spar Over 4th Precinct Protests

Lt. Bob Kroll, president of the Police Officers Federation of Minneapolis, said in a press conference Wednesday afternoon that he urges the public to look through the evidence in the case, which was released after County Attorney Mike Freeman's decision.

"I expect all members of the public to peacefully accept the process and outcome that exonerated officers Mark Ringgenberg and Dustin Schwarze," Kroll said. "This has been the most thorough and transparent investigation with state and federal involvement that I've experienced."

Kroll says he talked briefly with the officers Wednesday.

"They felt terrible about it since it's happened. It's a tragic thing to go through. Their families have been through hell," he said.

When asked about the Minneapolis NAACP's response, Kroll again stressed the transparency of the investigation.

"I don't know what more they want," he said. "There was demands made for an independent investigation that was granted. There were demands made for federal oversight that was granted. There were demands made for the county attorney to make the call rather than the grand jury that was granted. Now you don't get the reaction you want, you don't revert to hostility."

Related: Hennepin Co. Att'y Shares Previously Unreleased Clark Videos

Kroll says he wishes Ringgenberg and Schwarze were already back on the streets, but both are now on limited duty, which means they are largely doing desk work.

"The people on the street want them back, they want to be back with their peers," Kroll said.

Hodges and Harteau said in addition to the BCA's independent investigation of the case, they have ordered a separate federal investigation. Harteau said any decisions on discipline involving the officers will not be made until the conclusion of the federal investigation along with a thorough review of all available evidence from the independent investigations.

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