No indictment in Jamar Clark police shooting case

Jamar Clark was 24 when he was killed by Minneapolis Police.

Jamar Clark was 24 when he was killed by Minneapolis Police.

UPDATE: Freeman's office did not waste time releasing key evidence from the case, including video of the moment Jamar Clark and Minneapolis Police officers first started fighting. Watch that video here.

Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman announced Wednesday that he is not charging the officers involved in the police shooting of Jamar Clark, saying it was "reasonable" for the officers to kill Clark, given the threat he posed. 

In the narrative presented by Freeman and Minneapolis Police, Clark was not only reckless, but essentially suicidal in his conduct, challenging paramedics and cops and, in the final moment, saying he was ready to die.

According to the official narrative, which Freeman walked through point-by-point, officer Mark Ringgenberg was wrestling with Clark, who was on the ground, when his partner Dustin Schwarze fired the fatal shot. The cops contended Clark had grabbed Ringgenberg's gun, still in its holster, a claim bolstered by later DNA testing.

Freeman also said forensic testing had shown Clark was not in handcuffs when he was shot. 

Freeman repeatedly described Clark's death as "tragic," and offered "sincere condolences" to his family. The prosecutor said the shooting death at the hands of police denied the chance of a "full and productive life" for Clark, who died age 24.

Freeman repeatedly called Clark's death "tragic."

Freeman repeatedly called Clark's death "tragic."

"I'm saddened this tragic incident means he won't have that opportunity," Freeman said. 

Two weeks ago, Freeman announced he was forgoing a grand jury process in the case, saying he would stop employing it in future officer-involved shootings as well. Freeman said Wednesday that the office would release full videotapes of the shooting later Wednesday, and called the publication of that and other evidence an "unprecedented" level of transparency in a police case.

According to Freeman, Clark had threatened paramedics who had come to a north Minneapolis home that night to care for Clark's girlfriend. The woman had been injured in a fight between the two of them earlier that night. Paramedics asked for police assistance, and Ringgenberg and Schwarze arrived soon after. 

The cops asked Clark to take his hands out of his pockets, but he refused. Ringgenberg took his gun out and held it against his leg, but didn't point it at Clark. 

"What's the pistol for?" Clark asked, still refusing to take his hands from his pockets. 

The cops tried but failed to put the cuffs on Clark, who struggled. Ringgenberg said his gun moved around on his belt, and he felt Clark's hand gripped on it. He cried out to his partner that Clark had his gun, and Schwarze drew his own weapon. 

The two officers say they told Clark to take his hand off of Ringgenberg's gun, and Schwarze told Clark he was going to shoot him if he didn't let go.

"I'm ready to die," Clark said, according to the police account.

Schwarze's gun didn't go off when he first pulled the trigger. The second shot went off, and hit Clark in the head. The whole thing — from the moment the officers arrived on the scene to the moment the gun went off — lasted one minute and one second. 

By trying to grab Ringgenberg's gun, Freeman explained, Clark was committing a felony. The cops involved say they feared for their lives, and believed the only way to stop Clark from taking the gun was through the use of deadly force.

One woman present for Freeman's press conference said he had pushed police "propaganda," and alluded to the possibility of a riot in response to Freeman's decision.

"If the city burns," she said, "it's on your hands."

Freeman responded that she, and anyone else, would be free to examine the evidence made available online later today, and could come to their own conclusions.