Protests rage as Minneapolis officers are named in shooting death of unarmed black man Jamar Clark
Minnesota officials on Wednesday named two Minneapolis policemen involved in the fatal shooting of an unarmed black man as chanting demonstrators surrounded a nearby police station and, according to officers, threw bottles and rocks.
The Minnesota Department of Public Safety said Minneapolis Police Department Officers Mark Ringgenberg and Dustin Schwarze were involved in the shooting of Jamar Clark, 24, Sunday.
Both men have been police officers for seven years, including 13 months with the city. The officers, whose race was not disclosed, are on administrative leave during an investigation.
Clark is the latest in a series of unarmed black people to be killed at the hands of police in the United States over the past several years, fueling protests nationwide and rekindling a national civil rights movement.
Attempts by Reuters to reach the officers for comment were unsuccessful on Wednesday.
Community activists have said Clark was unarmed and handcuffed when he was shot shortly after midnight on Sunday. The examiner’s office said he died from a gunshot wound to the head at 9:25 p.m. CST on Monday at the Hennepin County Medical Center.
Bob Kroll, a spokesman for the union representing Minneapolis police officers, told Reuters in a brief statement that Clark was never handcuffed and “was disarming the officer” during the altercation.
Kroll also said that Clark had a violent history and that the officers had no record of discipline by the department.
Drew Evans, superintendent of the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension, has said that Clark was unarmed and the BCA was still trying to determine whether he was handcuffed.
According to the BCA, the police officers had responded to a request for assistance from paramedics who reported that an individual was disrupting their ability to help an assault victim.
The BCA said Clark was a suspect in the assault and that there was an altercation between him and the officers before one of them shot him.
Dozens of protesters have camped in front of the north Minneapolis precinct near where the shooting occurred, but on Wednesday police pushed them back from the entryway.
Police said during a Wednesday news conference that demonstrators threw bottles, bricks and rocks at officers as they cleared the entry.
“We will not tolerate property damage or any acts of violence against anyone. Public safety must continue to be our number one priority,” Police Chief Janeé Harteau said.
A growing crowd of at least 250 people, joining arms to partly surround the station, chanted slogans like “No justice, no peace. Prosecute the police,” “Indict, convict, send those killer cops to jail” and “Handcuffs, don’t shoot.”
Minneapolis Mayor Betsy Hodges issued a statement late on Wednesday saying she supported protesters rights to demonstrate peacefully. She also urged police to “exercise maximum restraint.”
About 20 officers, some wearing riot gear or dressed in fatigues, watched stoically from behind barricades police had set up.
Pastor Brian Herron of Zion Baptist Church in Minneapolis criticized the police for coming out in riot gear.
Late Monday, activists blocked the entrance of a police precinct following the shooting and marched to an Interstate highway, demanding authorities release video of the shooting. At least 50 people were arrested after blocking a section of Interstate 94 that runs through Minneapolis.
“We don’t want another Ferguson,” said Herron, a former city council member, referring to the St. Louis suburb where a white police officer’s shooting last year of an unarmed black man and the decision by a grand jury not to indict the officer led to riots. “They are unleashing something they don’t understand. Oh Lord.”
BCA officials have said the results of its investigation will be given to prosecutors in two to four months. A federal civil rights investigation is also underway.
(Additional reporting by Ben Klayman in Detroit, Brendan O’Brien in Milwaukee and Dan Whitcomb and Victoria Cavaliere in Los Angeles; Writing by Ben Klayman; Editing by Jeffrey Benkoe, Christian Plumb and Simon Cameron-Moore)