Feds Again Refuse to Bring Charges Against Police Who Killed Jamar Clark
Noting the high threshold required by US federal law to bring civil rights charges against the officers involved in the Jamar Clark shooting, the Minneapolis FBI today announced there will be no indictment against the Minneapolis police involved. This concluded the second federal inquiry into the November shooting death of unarmed Jamar Clark.
FBI officials explain that it was “not enough to show that the officers made a mistake” and that the FBI had to show the officers “specifically intended to commit a crime” and deprive Clark of his constitutional rights.
Repeatedly stating the requirement that admissible evidence must establish the defendants guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. The FBI declared at the press conference that they only bring charges when they can meet this burden. “In a case when the evidence is unclear… it would be unethical for a federal prosecutor to indict,” the spokesman said.
There were “two very clear allegations – one that Clark was handcuffed and was then shot execution style.” Confronted with these very serious allegations the Minneapolis FBI worked with Department of Justice civil rights lawyers who have a record working on police misconduct probes across the United States. The press conference first addressed the issue of whether or not Clark was handcuffed and if they’d be able to concretely prove that in court.
— Unicorn Riot (@UR_Ninja) June 1, 2016
Security refused to allow our independent media colleagues entrance to the FBI press conference. After speaking with the duty agents in charge it was made clear to us that the FBI required news organizations to signup on a list that they had sent out late last night. Despite having credentials clearly displayed, Unicorn Riot was barred from entering along with Black Lives Matter and NAACP activists.
Witnesses and police obviously had contradictory claims when it came to whether Clark was handcuffed at the time the officers shot and killed him. FBI claimed to interview every witness they could get in contact with and attempted to find “sufficient evidence to disprove officers account.”
“Would be much simpler to concluded that the officers use of force was unreasonable if we could show that Clark was restrained when he was shot.”
“Took into account the statements of all witnesses… some we interviewed more than once… Some saw Mr. Clark with handcuffs on while he was standing… some saw Mr. Clark with handcuffs in-front of him, some saw handcuffs behind him… some saw handcuffs while he was on the ground… some accounts were inconsistent with the physical evidence.”
Prosecutors must put forth a consistent narrative in order to successfully bring charges. The FBI didn’t believe that a jury would find the evidence strong enough to pass the test and thus will not seek an indictment.
— jess banks (@ProfBanks) June 1, 2016
Reaction on social media has been strong and will only continue to heat up once the community has a chance to organize and respond.
Pointing out the inconsistencies in witness testimony and continuously explaining the need for solid, irrefutable evidence, the FBI relied on physical evidence in making their determination. Two pieces of which were very important to their conclusion. The handcuffs recovered at the scene were tested for DNA which was found to be insufficient for identification. “Lack of DNA on the handcuffs was important to us… would show at trial that he was not handcuffed.”
Bruising on Clark’s wrists was also allegedly not found by the medical examiner. But, the FBI said that the “medical examiner stated that this evidence is not conclusive.” They then sought and extra opinion from a trusted federal medical examiner outside of Minnesota who concurred with the results of the previous examination.
.@nvlevy advocates for shutting down MPD 4th Precinct and reopen as community center. “You would see a drop in violence on the north side.”
— Abby Simons (@AJillSimons) June 1, 2016
At the press conference it was repeatedly emphasized just how thoroughly and independently the FBI investigation was conducted. Their conclusion is that Jamar Clark was not handcuffed when he was shot.
The investigation then turned to whether or not the officers claims that Clark was grabbing for one of their guns held up to scrutiny. “Both officers stated that they feared for their lives,” which is all too common and typically a get-out-of-jail-free card. Federal law requires sufficient evidence to disprove the statements made by the officers and must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the officers actions were unreasonable. According to the FBI, “some witnesses saw a struggle, others did not” which forced them to consider evidence that could be corroborated and presented in court.
— North Star Post (@NStarPost) June 1, 2016
Contradictory statements lead the FBI to rely on physical evidence again. Enter, the controversial ambulance camera video. “Video is not conclusive but it does make it difficult for a prosecutor to prove beyond a reasonable doubt” that the actions of the officers violated Clark’s constitutional rights.
The Elks Lodge camera yielded no evidence according to the FBI.
In this criminal civil rights case, one fact is inescapable: Jamar Clark did not receive a fair trial by jury for the crimes he is alleged to have committed. It’s going to be difficult for the community to understand and come to terms with this now, second refusal from their federal government not to reprimand the officers involved in Clark’s death. The speaker at the press conference called Jamar Clarks death “tragic”, and said the “use of force [by police] in Minnesota must be addressed.”
The press conference concluded and media were not allowed to ask any questions. Also, no press release is available on the FBI Minneapolis website as of 2:50am on June 2nd.
The FBI is creating a pilot program on police use of force and to promote police reform, working with community leaders. Let’s hope there will be no more street executions, and that one day we will all be treated as equals under the law and able to thrive under our constitutionally protected rights.
This article was updated June 2nd, 2016 at 2:50am to include new information.