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Betsy Hodges: Jamar Clark shooting should be investigated by Department of Justice

Hodges wrote the U.S. Department of Justice on Monday to open a civil rights investigation.

Hodges wrote the U.S. Department of Justice on Monday to open a civil rights investigation.

As Jamar Clark sits on life support and Black Lives Matter protesters continue to hold down the fourth precinct police department, Minneapolis Mayor Betsy Hodges announced Monday night that she will be seeking a federal investigation into Clark’s shooting.

The 24-year-old Clark was shot by police early Sunday morning in North Minneapolis. Many eyewitnesses say he was handcuffed at the time he was shot, either lying face down on the ground or trying to approach his girlfriend. Police say that he was a domestic assault suspect who interfered with first responders as they were trying to treat his alleged victim, and that he was not handcuffed.

Video of the incident was likely recorded at the Elks Lodge across the street from the shooting, but has been confiscated by police. Black Lives Matter protesters have since erected tents at the fourth precinct, vowing to occupy the station until the Elks Lodge video is released, the names of the officers involved are released, and there is an independent, federal investigation underway.

Sunday night, protesters in the streets of North Minneapolis left two cop cars with their windows smashed in and tires slashed.

Hodges wrote the U.S. Department of Justice on Tuesday to open a civil rights investigation on top of the state Bureau of Criminal Apprehension investigation. It is the first time in her term as mayor that she has asked for concurrent state and federal reviews.

“I’ve asked for this because we need all the tools available to us,” Hodges said.

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The BCA will first meet with the two officers involved in the shooting – both of whom are on administrative leave – before releasing their names. It is not clear when these meetings will take place.

There is also no telling when the Elk Lodge video plus any squad or ambulance videos might be released. The BCA has the footage, and its investigations typically take 2-4 months, said commissioner Mona Dohman. 

However, Chief Janee Harteau hinted that the department might release video footage before the conclusion of the BCA investigation.

“This is not a predetermination about anyone’s actions, but I understand and support this decision,” Harteau said of the mayor’s request for a federal review. “This incident has actually not only enhanced existing relationships with dozens of community leaders that I’ve met with, but I’ve also met with and learned of new relationships. This incident should not and will not define us.”

Anyone who witnessed the Clark shooting or knows of anyone who did should call (651) 793-7501.