A Minneapolis police shooting has spurred racial debate, given that the African-American man who was fatally shot by officers appears to have been unarmed.
24-year old Jamar Clark entered into a dispute with police officers last Sunday, after law enforcement received reports that a woman had been hurt in a domestic assault.
Upon their arrival at the crime scene in north Minneapolis, they found Clark hampering the ambulance workers’ efforts to treat his girlfriend whom he had allegedly attacked.
An argument ensued between Clark and two policemen, 28-year old Dustin Schwarze and 30-year old Mark Ringgenberg, during which the unarmed black man sustained a gunshot wound to the head.
According to some witnesses, Jamar had been handcuffed when the shooting took place. On the other hand, an attorney for one of the officers involved in the incident has claimed that Clark hadn’t been immobilized at the time, and had actually managed to gain control of the policeman’s weapon.
Despite the fact that Clark was rushed to the hospital shortly after being shot, the wounds he had received were too severe. On Monday night, his family agreed to have him taken off life support, given that there was no hope for him to make a recovery.
Two parallel investigations are currently being conducted in order to shed light on this case, and to determine if two police officers accused of having acted unprofessionally really are at fault in this fatal shooting.
One of the inquests is being carried out by criminal civil rights authorities, and the other one by the FBI and the State Bureau of Criminal Apprehension. So far, it has been determined that Clark was indeed weaponless at the time, but the police union still insists that he had tried to seize a gun from an officer.
Meanwhile, locals have disrupted a Minneapolis city council meeting on Friday, in order to protest against the abusive behavior shown by policemen when dealing with potential perpetrators.
They have been asking for law enforcement to release footage filmed by ambulance and security cameras, so as to confirm that the 24-year old was indeed handcuffed when he sustained a bullet to the head.
However, following a meeting with Governor Mark Dayton and the Department of Public Safety commissioner, Minneapolis Mayor Betsy Hodges has declared that making such a video public would disrupt the course of the investigation.
Later that day, hundreds of people attended a candlelight vigil for Clark, outside the 4th Precint police station, located around 2 blocks from where the shooting took place.
According to Cornell William Brooks, president of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, it’s important to proceed with unabated ardor and vigor in this fight for justice, so that police misconduct can be recognized and punished appropriately.
This point of view was shared by Nekima Levy-Pounds, president of the Minneapolis chapter of the NAACP, who also participated in the Black Lives Matter protest, and argued that the Clark’s family, as well as the rest of the public have the right to know what really happened during the exchange.
Apparently, according to his loved ones, the fatally shot victim, who had 14 siblings, had been trying to turn his life around in recent months, following a troubled past.
Although he had spent around 3 years behind bars following a robbery conviction and was about to be tried after a high-speed police chase, he had been working hard lately, and was planning to go to college.
As Star Tribune has revealed, the policemen involved in the incident were both faced with federal lawsuits before: Schwarz was accused of having tried to coerce a man to become a police informant in 2009, while Ringgenberg was sued in 2012 for rough treatment on a suspect who had been resisting arrest.
This police shooting is one of many highly publicized cases in recent years, where law enforcement has been blamed for using excessive force when dealing with suspects, especially when the accused had been African-American.
Several other unarmed black people have been killed during scuffles with police, and some of this abuse of power has been captured by surveillance cameras or mobile phones.
Image Source: RT