Medical Examiner: Mpls. Man Died of Gunshot Wound to Head, Death Ruled Homicide

November 15, 2017 10:23 AM

A man shot by police over the weekend, sparking protests in Minneapolis, has now died.

The Minnesota Department of Public Safety says 24-year-old Jamar Clark of Minneapolis died Monday night. Clark's family had said he was on life support after the shooting.

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His body was taken to the Hennepin County Medical Examiner for an autopsy. The medical examiner determined Clark died of a gunshot wound to the head and ruled his death as a homicide.

The shooting happened at 12:45 a.m. Sunday on the 1600 block of Plymouth Avenue North. Minneapolis police say an officer shot Clark after Clark interfered with paramedics' efforts to treat an assault victim. They did not elaborate on the relationship between Clark and the assault victim, other than that they knew each other, citing the active and ongoing investigation.

Investigators say the names of the officers will be released after the interviews are complete; both are on administrative leave, which is standard procedure.

Some community members have alleged Clark was handcuffed when he was shot, which police have disputed. The Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension is investigating the shooting, and Mayor Betsy Hodges has also requested a federal civil rights investigation.

BCA Superintendent Drew Evans said handcuffs were found at the scene, and investigators are working to determine whether they were on Clark at the time of the shooting or if they were just at the scene.

Evans says several videos have been obtained so far, but none of them capture the incident in its entirety. The videos are from the ambulance rig, a police camera in the area, the Public Housing Authority, and individuals with cellphones. Dash cam video and body cam video are not available.

Evans repeated that no video would be released now because it might taint the investigation. Protesters have demanded that video be released, saying they don't trust investigators.

"We don’t want to taint the interviews that may be ongoing with witnesses in this case, and by having the video being public, we would potentially taint portions of the investigation," Evans said.

U.S. Department of Justice Investigation

The calls had come from Minneapolis Mayor Betsy Hodges, Governor Mark Dayton and U.S. Congressman Keith Ellison for a U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) civil rights investigation into the shooting.

Read the statement Hodges issued regarding requests for external investigations here.

“When a member of our community is severely wounded, the circumstances must be investigated,” wrote Rep. Ellison in a letter to United States Attorney General Loretta Lynch.

The DOJ has dual civil and criminal authority to investigate alleged civil rights misconduct by any local police department.

"It's not surprising given the situation here, that's very volatile, that the calls have come so early," said Rachel Paulose, former U.S. Attorney of the District of Minnesota.

Paulose also worked in Washington, D.C., in the same unit that handles civil rights investigations under former U.S. Attorney General Janet Reno.

"It's understandable that civil rights leaders, law enforcement authorities, and political leaders are calling for transparency to restore community trust," Paulose said.

The FBI is now investigating.

“The Department received a request yesterday from Minneapolis Mayor Betsy Hodges asking the FBI and Department of Justice to initiate a criminal civil rights investigation into the police-involved shooting of Jamar Clark. This federal investigation will be conducted by the FBI and will be concurrent to the state’s investigation. The United States Attorney’s Office for the District of Minnesota and prosecutors with the Department of Justice’s Civil Rights Division will independently review all evidence to determine if Mr. Clark’s death involved any prosecutable violations of federal criminal civil rights statutes. We ask for cooperation from any witnesses who believe they have information about the shooting and we urge calm throughout our community while investigators seek to determine the facts. As the investigation is ongoing the Department will have no further comment,” a statement read from the U.S. Attorney's Office.

5 EYEWITNESS NEWS reporter Eric Chaloux also sat down with former two-time U.S. Attorney Thomas B. Heffelfinger to discuss the weekend shooting of Clark.

“That is not an indictment or a criticism of the BCA (Bureau of Criminal Apprehension) or its ability to do job,” Heffelfinger said. “But there are some elements of this particular case, I'm thinking of the handcuff issue, the potential differences of testimony between what police are saying and what other witness are apparently saying."

Heffelfinger said these types of federal civil rights investigations into a police department’s actions require federal agents to piece together every detail of the case.

"They are very difficult, they are very public, very visible, emotions are high, and therefore they are difficult to do," Heffelfinger said.

The U.S. DOJ Civil Rights Division conducted 15 federal investigations into local police departments from 2009-2012.

Protests Sparked after Shooting

The shooting has led to multiple protests and the arrest of 42 people who caused Interstate 94 westbound to close between Plymouth and Broadway avenues in Minneapolis on Monday night.

The Minnesota State Patrol says one trooper was assaulted during the protest but was not significantly injured, and several patrol cars were damaged by bottles and rocks.

Anyone with information or video is asked to call the BCA at 651-793-7000.

KSTP

Copyright 2018 - KSTP-TV, LLC A Hubbard Broadcasting Company

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