MINNEAPOLIS, Minn. – Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman said the level of transparency in his decision not to charge two Minneapolis police officers in the death of Jamar Clark is unprecedented.
Freeman released copies of citizen interviews, police reports, Clark’s autopsy report, videos and photos from the scene, 911 and dispatch calls.
All of the information, put on the Hennepin County Attorney’s Office website, includes several dozen videos from citizens, witnesses and area businesses, along with video from responding squad cars and the two ambulances responding to Clark and his girlfriend.
“This way, you can review virtually all the evidence we reviewed before making our charging decision and draw your own conclusions,” said Freeman.
Not one video released shows the shooting incident in its entirety. Freeman said he wants the public to see how difficult it can be to interpret what happens in video footage.
“I know many people think videos are the panacea and they will resolve all disputes in every criminal situation. That simply isn’t true,” said Freeman.
He showed a witness video recorded by citizen Danny Braylock that showed the initial chaos after the shooting with Clark on the ground. Another witness, Dennis Cherry, gives his account of seeing officers sitting on top of Clark when he was alive, and said Clark’s hands were cuffed and he was immobile in the moments before the shooting.
“Next thing you know a gunshot went off, it frightened me,” said Cherry, in a video posted to YouTube.
Another video from a female citizen recorded the chaos in the moments after Clark was shot.
A female voice can be heard screaming, “Minneapolis Police going down. They killed that boy in cold blood.”
Nearly a half hour of ambulance footage gives the best glimpse of Jamar Clark when paramedics arrived to help Clark’s girlfriend, RayAnn Hayes. The 911 call released shows she called for help for her injured leg.
“I can’t walk. There is an altercation downstairs in the building, and I tried to break it up, and in the process of it, my leg sprung, I can’t move,” she told the dispatcher.
Freeman said she later identified Clark as the person who caused her injuries, including a split lip and abrasion to her nose.
“As paramedics carried Hayes out of the building, they saw Clark standing outside crying and "acting kind of odd." As they walked past Clark, Hayes said "that's the guy who did this to me,” said Freeman.
Later, after Hayes is brought into an ambulance on a stretcher, Clark is seen at the back of the ambulance door, briefly swinging his hand towards the back ambulance door.
When officers arrive, an ambulance video released shows Officer Ringgenberg take Jamar Clark down off to the backside of the ambulance. Freeman pointed out the officer's legs kicking in the scuffle. The shooting of Clark happens out of frame, then Officer Ringgenberg stands and adjusts his belt.
“How is that resisted? That was violent. That was murder,” shouted some community members at the press conference after the videos were played.
Freeman maintained the use of deadly force is justified if the officer reasonably believes that death or great bodily harm to himself or another will likely result if he does not act.
“In this case Ringgenberg subjectively believed that Clark had or was in the process of obtaining control of his weapon and that were Clark able to remove the weapon from its holster, both Ringgenberg and Schwarze would likely be shot,” said Freeman.
The cameras on the Elks Lodge, across the street from the shooting scene, did not record anything. Surveillance video from public housing and a police pole did not capture anything of substance either.