Minneapolis police shooting videos won't be released, official says
MINNEAPOLIS -- State investigators looking into the fatal shooting of a black Minneapolis man by police during a scuffle have several partial videos of the incident but won't release them at this time, despite demands from protesters, an official said Tuesday.
Jamar ONeal Clark, 24, died Monday evening, a day after he was shot by police during an early-morning dispute, the state Bureau of Criminal Apprehension said Tuesday.
Some witnesses said Clark was handcuffed when he was shot. Police initially said he was not handcuffed, but authorities later said handcuffs were at the scene and they were trying to determine whether Clark was restrained. His death sparked protests including one Monday night in which hundreds of people blocked traffic on an interstate highway, leading to 42 arrests.
"How could you do a person like that?" protester Justin Murray said to CBS affiliate WCCO. "Just shoot a person down like they don't matter? I got a child myself, you know. I was on the expressway crying, I was really in tears."
The BCA is investigating the case, and federal agencies agreed Tuesday night to Mayor Betsy Hodges' request for a civil rights investigation. That satisfied one of the protesters' demands, but investigators haven't met two others: the release of any video and the identities of the officers involved.
The federal investigation will be conducted by the FBI and will be concurrent to the BCA's probe. In a statement, federal authorities asked for cooperation from any witnesses and urged calm during the investigation.
Police said the incident began when they were called to north Minneapolis around 12:45 a.m. Sunday following a report of an assault. When they arrived, a man was interfering with paramedics helping the victim, police said. Officers tried to calm him, but there was a struggle. At some point, an officer fired at least once, hitting the man, police said.
BCA Superintendent Drew Evans said at a news conference Tuesday that investigators have video from several sources, including an ambulance, a mobile police camera stationed in the area, public housing cameras and citizens' cellphones.
But he said none of the videos captured the entire incident and none will be released while the investigation is ongoing to avoid possibly tainting it.
Authorities have said the officers involved weren't wearing body cameras. Evans said there is no police dashcam video of the shooting. He declined to release any identifying information about the officers, including their race, pending interviews with them.
When asked if the video shows whether Clark was handcuffed, Department of Public Safety spokesman Bruce Gordon reiterated that the video captures a portion of the incident, but not everything, and said officials can't discuss specifics because it could potentially taint witness statements.
"We're still examining whether or not they were on Mr. Clark or whether or not they were just (fallen) at the scene. That's what we're trying to ascertain," Evans said.
Evans also confirmed that Clark was unarmed. Pressed on the timeline for results of the BCA investigation, Evans said two to four months is typical but that the Clark case "has been given top priority."
The Hennepin County Medical Examiner's Office ruled Tuesday that Clark died from a gunshot wound to the head. Clark's father previously told The Associated Press that his son suffered a single gunshot wound over his left eye.
Clark's brother, Jamine Robinson, 32, of Rochester, told the AP earlier Tuesday that family members had gone to the hospital Monday evening to take Clark off life support. He said he didn't go because he didn't want to see his brother in a hospital bed.
"I want the officer to be arrested, prosecuted and put in jail for eternity. Life without parole," said Robinson.
In seeking the civil rights investigation on Monday, Hodges said she was concerned about "transparency and community confidence." She expressed faith in the state investigation but said the city needs "all the tools we have available to us."
Minneapolis NAACP President Nekima Levy-Pounds told WCCO the entire situation has her in disbelief.
"How is it that an officer can shoot someone in the head and seemingly get away with it, and not be taken into custody," Levy-Pounds said. "There is absolutely no way that the conduct of that officer could be justified through departmental policies."
Protesters have set up tents around the 4th Precinct station near where the shooting occurred and said they won't leave until authorities release any video they have of the incident along with the officer's identity.
The protests are just the latest expression of tension between the department and minorities in the city.
The rocky relations have led to discussions between police and minorities and the creation of task forces designed to quell concerns. This spring, Minneapolis was selected for a federal Justice Department program to rebuild trust between police and the communities they patrol.
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