The Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension is investigating a police shooting that has sparked protests from Black Lives Matter Minneapolis, according to multiple reports.
At 12:45 a.m. Sunday, police reportedly responded to a report of an assault in north Minneapolis. A FOX 9 News report says the call “had become a ‘HELP’ call” while they were en route. When they arrived at the scene, the assault suspect “had returned and was interfering with paramedics who were assisting the victim,” according to a report from the Associated Press. The local chapter of the NAACP identified the assault suspect as Jamar Clark, “a black man in his mid-20s.”
From here, accounts of the incident become vague. The Minneapolis Star Tribune reports that a witness who lives near where the shooting took place says Clark “tried to talk to” the alleged assault victim as she was being taken to an ambulance, and that Clark was then handcuffed. All these reports cite witnesses who say Clark was handcuffed when he was shot. A family member reportedly told the Star Tribune that Clark was shot “in the head, execution style.”
Clark’s relatives, including several sisters, gathered in a room on the seventh floor intensive-care unit at Hennepin County Medical Center Sunday afternoon where a physician told them that Clark is brain dead, according to one family member.
Another supposed eyewitness reportedly offered an even more graphic description:
The NAACP statement quoted witness Teto Wilson, who said Clark “was just laying there. He was not resisting arrest. Two officers were surrounding the victim on the ground, an officer maneuvered his body around to shield Jamar’s body, and I heard the shot go off.”
The Minneapolis Police shot and killed a man across from the Elks tonight in front of dozens of witnesses. There were literally dozens of witnesses looking from the apartments as well when it happened. The crowd said that the police already had him down on the ground when they shot him. I heard a shot and got there within seconds. All the witnesses were yelling they shot the man while he was already down and handcuffed. 20 or more squads arrived and the [sic] started manhandling the crowd including me while I was trying to settle some people down and find out the names of witnesses. Again, there were dozens of witnesses to the actual shooting! Please contact the NAACP, Jason Sole with your information or...Dylanor Jeff and get my number from them. The only way for justice is for everyone who actually saw the shooting to tell what they saw.
Police, for their part, reportedly say their “preliminary investigation” indicates Clark was not handcuffed at the time of the shooting.
As officers were attempting to calm the suspect, a physical altercation erupted with the man, “who was not in handcuffs,” the statement continued.
“At some point during the struggle, an officer discharged his weapon, striking the suspect,” the statement read. The suspect was taken to HCMC in an ambulance.
It seems like a large crowd at the scene may have added to the tension—police at one point reportedly requested “all available squad cars,” and told a dispatcher “we’ve got a big crowd; we need a lot of cops.” Witnesses reportedly say police used “a chemical irritant” to disperse the crowd.
Sunday a group of protesters, including Black Lives Matter activists, gathered at the scene of the shooting and marched to the police station. Police Chief Janee Harteau “cautioned that there is a lot of speculation about what happened.”
The two officers involved in the shooting have been placed on administrative leave, and the BCA investigation is ongoing. Minneapolis Police ran a small body camera pilot program in 2014 with the goal of issuing cameras department-wide in late 2015. As of September 2015, kinks were still being worked out in proposals for implementation, and the new goal is sometime in 2016.