Federal investigators declined to bring civil rights violation charges against two Minneapolis officers involved in the fatal shooting of unarmed 24-year-old Jamar Clark that occurred during a confrontation last fall, reports the Minneapolis Star-Tribune.
U.S. Attorney Andrew Luger said the government would have had to establish without a reasonable doubt that the officers acted willfully, with the specific intent to do something the law forbids during the shooting on November 15, 2015 in Minneapolis, Minnesota. “It is one of the highest legal standards to prove,” he said.
From the Star-Tribune:
[Luger], leaning heavily on whether Clark was handcuffed by police before being shot and other factors, said there was “insufficient evidence” to bring a federal case. He said Clark’s family has been informed of the ruling.
“I want you to understand that this is one of the highest legal standards under criminal law,” Luger told reporters at FBI offices in Brooklyn Center. “It is not enough to show the officers made a mistake, that they acted negligently, by accident or even that they exercised bad judgment to prove a crime. We would have had to show that they specifically intended to commit a crime.”
Luger said there were two primary areas that federal investigators focused on: the question of whether Clark was handcuffed at the time he was shot and whether the shooting was an unreasonable act carried out “execution-style.”
Luger stated the Clark family is aware of the ruling.
Mayor Betsy Hodges requested a U.S. Department of Justice investigation after Clark was shot to death in an altercation involving two officers, Mark Ringgenberg, 30, and Dustin Schwarze, 28. Hodges’ inquiry was to determine whether Clark’s civil rights were violated on that fateful night in November.
The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Minnesota, Department of Justice’s Civil Rights Division, and the FBI’s Minneapolis Division have been conducting an independent investigation, reports the Star-Tribune.
On March 30, Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman announced that his office would not bring criminal charges against Ringgenberg and Schwarze. Freeman eliminated using a grand jury, saying his decision would set the precedent for how his office would handle police-involved shootings.
Protesters took to the streets in a standoff with the Minneapolis Police Department that lasted over 15 days.
Clark was shot in the head after officers claimed he resisted arrest. Ringgenberg and Schwarze were responding to a call from paramedics treating a woman who attended the same gathering as Clark. Paramedics told police Clark attempted to enter the ambulance to see the woman, resulting in a domestic dispute. She later said that Clark did not harm her.
Witnesses varied, with some saying that Clark was handcuffed while he was shot. Luger said multiple accounts contradicted the evidence found in the case and reached the conclusion that Clark was not handcuffed.
Luger also stated he would meet with Minneapolis community leaders about police reform and the use of force in Minnesota.
“There are no winners here,” he said.
SOURCES: Star-Tribune | PHOTO CREDIT: Getty, Twitter