Mark Ringgenberg and Dustin Schwarze, the two Minneapolis police officers involved in the fatal shooting of Jamar Clark, are due to come under intense public scrutiny while investigators and the public learn more about what happened on a north Minneapolis street corner early Sunday morning. Both cops joined the Minneapolis force about a year ago, but each had previously worked for other police departments.
In Ringgenberg's case, he started his police career in San Diego, before joining the Maple Grove police force in 2011. While in California, Ringgenberg was sued for police brutality by a black man who alleged that Ringgenberg had choked him, unnecessarily, while the man's family screamed for the officer to stop.
Fred Clark, Jr., recently retold his version of events to ABC 10, a San Diego TV station, which tracked him down five years after his encounter with Ringgenberg.
Clark, who lives in New Jersey, was out on the town with family members when a drunk staggered into him on the street, according to the complaint he filed against Ringgenberg, another cop and the city of San Diego. Clark and the drunk man exchanged words, and Clark says the man used racial slurs in their exchange. Without warning, Clark says, someone seized him from behind, grabbing both arms.
Clark broke free and ran away, but stopped when he realized it was two uniform police officers chasing after him. One of them was Ringgenberg, who put Clark into a chokehold, though Clark says he wasn't resisting the arrest. Clark added that Ringgenberg and the other cop didn't give him any instructions to follow. At least, not until he leaned in and "menacingly" told Clark to "stop resisting."
The rough arrest continued despite Clark's friends and family gathering and trying to explain his altercation with the street drunk. Clark was later charged with "battery upon an officer" and "resisting arrest," but both counts were dropped when a surveillance camera video supported his version of events.
In his official police filing, Ringgenberg wrote that Clark "kept throwing me off his back as I was trying to apply the cartoid restraint."
Clark gave the station his unvarnished reaction to the news that it was Ringgenberg who was involved in Clark's shooting.
"I said, 'Jesus, God, fuck no,'" Clark says.
Clark says he dropped his lawsuit against Ringgenberg and the city when he ran out of money for attorney fees. He also gave his thinking about Ringgenberg's continued work in the field of law enforcement.
"That officer should not, under any circumstances, have a gun," he said.
Ringgenberg and Schwarze contend, through their attorney, that Jamar Clark was not only resisting at the time he was shot, but had actually reached for and taken one of their guns, and was in possession of the weapon at the time he was shot. Police have not disclosed which officer actually pulled the trigger.
In a blanket statement released to multiple news outlets, the San Diego Police Department said no information about Ringgenberg's time there would be made available, except for his term of work and his salary.
"Officer Mark Ringgenberg was an officer with the San Diego Police Department from July 2008-March 2012," read the statement. "During that time, he was a Police Officer II with a salary of $69,000 dollars a year. The San Diego Police Department is unable to honor any further requests for additional information pertaining to Officer Ringgenberg. Personnel files are exempt from disclosure under California state law."