Cop’s lawyer says Jamar Clark was holding a gun when he was killed

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Jamar Clark's memorial at James and Plymouth is filled with messages of love, but the lawyer for one of the officers involved in his shooting says Clark wasn't a good man.

Was Jamar Clark handcuffed the night of his murder by a Minneapolis police officer or not? Was he lying on the ground or was he harassing a victim of domestic violence? Did he ever reach for an officer’s gun?

Some witnesses of the early Sunday morning north Minneapolis shooting insist that Clark was cuffed and on the ground, not resisting, when an officer executed him at point blank range.

On Thursday, Officer Dustin Schwarze’s lawyer Frederic Bruno released a strong statement blaming Clark alone for his death. 

Rather than start with the events of that night — which the letter called "tragic"  — Bruno began by running down Clark's criminal record. In 2010, Clark was convicted of a  first degree aggravated robbery for which he spent 41 months in prison, and in April he got a second felony for "terroristic threats." After that, he was ordered to stay away from a domestic abuse victim until 2020. 

"Contrary to certain public statements recently aired, Jamar Clark was not a peaceful, law-abiding citizen," Bruno wrote.

Bruno said Clark resisted, fought officers, and took an officer’s gun. In the moment he was shot, Bruno said, Clark was in fact armed with that gun.

“Mr. Clark was given multiple opportunities to desist. Instead, he chose to engage officers in a life-or-death struggle for an officer’s weapon,” Bruno said. “This event should have been a peaceful encounter. It was the actions and choices of Mr. Clark alone which determined his outcome.”

Bruno also revealed that paramedics were called in the first place to treat Clark’s alleged victim who had a broken ankle. Clark was not handcuffed at any point, the lawyer insists.

The story clearly contradicts what initial witnesses claimed to have seen. It is not clear whether Bruno has seen the video footage of the incident, which protesters camped out at the Fourth Precinct police station have been demanding since day one. 

In recent days, members of Clark's family have stepped forward to describe Clark as a peaceful, generous man, the type of guy who would give the shirt off his back or freely distribute money to the neighborhood kids if they asked. 

Bruno denounced that too, citing Clark's record of a 2010 first degree aggravated robbery for which he spent 41 months in prison, and his second felony from April for terroristic threats. He was ordered to stay away from a domestic abuse victim until 2020. 

As for Bruno's client, a 2009 lawsuit accused Schwarze of falsely arresting a man a bunch of times in order to force him to become a police informant. A settlement was reached in that case. 


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