US Dept. of Justice to Review Minneapolis Police Response to Jamar Clark Protests

November 15, 2017 10:41 AM

A team from the U.S. Department of Justice will be helping the Minneapolis Police Department in assessing its response to the 4th Precinct protests, which were prompted by the November death of 24-year-old Jamar Clark.

City leaders say they requested the help to look at what they did well and what should change if something like this happens again.


The Office of Community Oriented Policing Services, or COPS, will provide critical response assistance to the Minneapolis Police Department, which is the approach taken when law enforcement agencies are dealing with big incidents or sensitive issues. It’s the same assessment the COPS Office used with agencies in Ferguson, Missouri, after the Michael Brown protests.

The federal review will examine use of force, equipment and technology, engagement with the media and training policies and procedures.

COPS Deputy Director Robert Chapman, Minneapolis Mayor Betsy Hodges and Minneapolis Police Chief Janeé Harteau talked in more detail about the assistance in a conference call Thursday.

Both the city and the COPS Office say the goal is to build community trust, legitimacy and fairness with community policing.

“As we've seen through the previous assessments that we've conducted, it most certainly should lead to changes in policy and procedures, training, their actual responses to protests and mass gathering, their uses of force, how they use equipment and technology and the way in which they engage with the media,” Chapman said.

Chapman said the activities in and around the 4th Precinct were something that they "haven't really seen take place in other communities."

Harteau and Hodges said they're both looking forward to the findings in the process and welcome the method.

"I think it's just the complexity of the overall events, 18 days, something that we as a city haven't seen, something unique across the country," Harteau said. "For us to have someone else take a look, I think would be much more valuable because sometimes you're too close to it."

"Certainly folks in the community have made it clear over time, to me and to others, that they have questions about it," Hodges said.

The Department of Justice will talk to hundreds of people and go through many files before its recommendations will be ready. The DOJ will release its findings and recommendations in early fall. No city dollars will be used to pay for it.

"They are clear that there is urgency and that we need answers, but they don't want to sacrifice quality of the assessment," Hodges said about the timeline.

Demonstrators camped out in front of the 4th Precinct for more than two weeks in November to protest Clark’s death.

Clark died after he was shot by a Minneapolis officer during what authorities said was a struggle. Police say Clark was interfering with the paramedics who were treating a woman who Clark was accused of assaulting.

A police union spokesman says Clark was shot after reaching for an officer's gun, but several people who say they witnessed the shooting insist Clark was handcuffed and not resisting arrest at the time he was shot.

KSTP has tried to find the woman who police say Clark assaulted, but she has not come forward to talk about what happened.

KSTP Reporters Brandi Powell and Tyler Berg contributed to this report.


Jennie Lissarrague

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