Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman said on Wednesday that he will not use a grand jury to decide whether to charge two Minneapolis police officers in the shooting death of a 24-year-old black man last November.
Freeman told reporters he will determine whether there is sufficient evidence to charge the officers involved in the November shooting of Jamar Clark. He added that all future cases involving police shootings would be reviewed by independent police investigators.
“The accountability and transparency limitations of a grand jury are too high a hurdle to overcome,” Freeman said. “We at Hennepin County will not use a grand jury in the Jamar Clark case.”
Clark’s November shooting came at a time of national debate over the use of lethal force by police, especially against black men. Minneapolis was among a number of U.S. cities that have seen protests over police killings.
Some witnesses have said Clark was handcuffed or restrained on the ground when he was shot, while authorities have said there was a scuffle and Clark was trying to get a police officer’s gun.
Protesters had demanded that a special prosecutor handle the decision on whether to charge the officers, Mark Ringgenberg and Dustin Schwarze. Freeman previously said he hoped to decide by the end of March whether to charge the officers.
Freeman said Wednesday that the county had been using grand juries for more than four decades in officer-involved shootings.
Meanwhile, the U.S. Justice Department is reviewing how the city of Minneapolis responded to the protests after the shooting.
(Reporting by Kristoffer Tigue, Writing by Ben Klayman; Editing by Bernard Orr)