As video played of Officer Mark Ringgenberg's forceful takedown of Jamar Clark, the ensuing struggle on the ground as the cop landed on top of Clark, and the fatal shot, cries broke out in the back of the room where Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman announced Wednesday that he would not press charges against the two officers involved.
“Oh my god, that was so violent, that was murder,” breathed Nekima Levy-Pounds, president of the Minneapolis NAACP. “That was a violent grab, which wasn’t articulated. We didn’t hear that in the narrative about what happened. Police grabbing somebody from the back and slamming him.”
Raeisha Williams, NAACP spokeswoman, accused Freeman of relying too much on the testimonies of Officer Ringgenberg and Dustin Schwarze to conclude that Clark was intentionally reaching for Ringgenberg’s gun while Ringgenberg sat on top of him, and that Clark had stated he was ready to die.
“All you did was push the information from the officers, who were the ones who victimized and ultimately murdered Jamar,” she said. “You, Mr. Freeman, did not give a fair and accurate depiction of what took place during the investigation. Let me tell you, if this city burns, it’s on your hands.”
Freeman urged the activists to take the time to read all of the reports, DNA analyses, and autopsy records that his office will post online so that they can draw their own conclusions.
As the news conference began to devolve into a shouting match, Freeman abruptly left through a back door, and the activists filed out into a crowded hallway. Surrounded by reporters, Levy-Pounds criticized several points in Freeman's account. According to witnesses, MPD officers quickly cleaned the street of blood without putting up police tape, she said. Cops intimidated crowds of those witnesses by pointing guns at them, spraying them with mace, and shoving them.
"The entire case seems to hinge on officers' statements and DNA evidence, DNA evidence that was held on to and collected by MPD officers, so there's a lack of trust in believing that the precinct that killed Jamar Clark did not also tamper with evidence," said BLM organizer Mica Grimm, weeping.
Because Clark had filed a lawsuit against the Fourth Precinct for police brutality two weeks before he was shot, Grim believes that the killing was done in retribution.
Grimm also said Freeman had put his job as Hennepin County Prosecutor in jeopardy by failing to indict the police.
"I hope that Mike Freeman knows that he’s on notice that he will not be reelected," Grimm said. "He needs a new job. I hope he knows that we are coming for him."
Pastor Danny Givens questioned the cops' report that Clark had been harassing his girlfriend while paramedics were trying to treat her for a broken ankle because it was not captured on video.
"The video that I watched showed a Jamar Clark who looked concerned about his girlfriend," Givens said. "The video that I watched showed a Jamar Clark who looked tempered. The video that I saw didn't show Jamar Clark beating on the door, Jamar Clark irate or uncontrollable. Even after the officers showed up on the scene, the video didn't show Jamar Clark resisting arrest."
There is a protest scheduled for 6 p.m. in Elliot Park.