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Officer involved in fatal Jamar Clark shooting was sued over ‘campaign of threats’ against informant

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  • Mark Ringgenberg and Dustin Schwarze named in Jamar Clark’s death
  • Schwarze was sued in 2009 over alleged ‘campaign of threats’

The police officers involved in the fatal shooting of an unarmed man in Minneapolis in the early hours of Sunday morning have been named by law enforcement as Mark Ringgenberg and Dustin Schwarze.

Schwarze has previously been sued for civil rights violations. That complaint, which was filed in a federal court in Minnesota in February 2011, accused Schwarze, then with the police department in the Minneapolis suburb of Richfield, of taking part in a “malicious campaign of threats, harassments, random searches and arrests” in 2009.

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The suit was filed by Billy McCoy, who alleged that Schwarze and two other officers harassed him, “falsified police reports, and conspired with a private citizen in a continuous and unbroken sequence of unlawful searches, intimidation and phone threats” in order to force him to become a police informant. The case was settled out of court and dismissed from the docket in April 2011, and the details were sealed.

Schwarze and Ringgenberg have each been with the Minneapolis police department for 13 months, city authorities said.

Jamar Clark died in the hospital on Monday night. The cause of death was a gunshot to the head, the Hennepin County medical examiner’s office announced in a statement Tuesday evening, and his death was ruled a homicide.

Riggenberg and Schwarze were “responding to a request for assistance from paramedics who reported an individual, now identified as Mr Clark, disrupting their ability to aid an assault victim at that location”, a spokesperson for the BCA said in a statement Wednesday morning.

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“At some point during an altercation that ensued between the officers and Mr Clark, an officer discharged his weapon, striking Mr Clark.”

Police originally said that Clark was killed during a struggle, but eyewitnesses have consistently said that Clark was subdued and handcuffed at the time he was shot.

“He was handcuffed. He wasn’t struggling,” Lisa Hoskins, who said she witnessed the shooting from the balcony of her apartment directly across the road, told the Guardian on Tuesday. “They told him to back up off the car, then they rushed him, put him in handcuffs,” she said. “That’s when you heard the ‘boom’.”

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Javille Burns, Clark’s sister, said in a press conference Wednesday morning that her brother “did not deserve to be shot down in the street like an animal and walked away from like his life didn’t matter”. She said the family “don’t want revenge; we want justice”.

“Yes, black lives matter,” Burns said. “White lives matter, Chinese lives matter, everybody’s lives matter because God gave them to you.”

On Monday night, protesters shut down Interstate 94 in protest against Clark’s shooting. Fifty-one were arrested.

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In a press conference Tuesday afternoon, the superintendent of the Minneapolis bureau of criminal apprehensions (BCA), which is handling the investigation, said that several videos had been obtained but that none of them completely covered the shooting.

He also walked back the original law enforcement narrative of a struggle, saying that the BCA was “still examining” whether Clark was handcuffed at the time he was shot.

Minneapolis mayor Betsy Hodges has called for the US Department of Justice to help in the investigation, and the DoJ has agreed to do so, according to the New York Times. The FBI has said that it will also investigate the case, according to the Associated Press.

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Both officers are currently on standard administrative leave, the BCA confirmed.


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