Backing up local and state officials — and rebuffing protestors — federal investigators said Friday they would not release video of Jamar Clark’s fatal shooting last week in Minneapolis.
Black Lives Matter activists have been pressuring the police and investigators to release video of Clark’s shooting on November 15, which sparked ongoing protests. Some witnesses allege Clark was handcuffed at the time.
“Release of any evidence, including any video, during an ongoing investigation would be extremely detrimental to the investigation,” U.S Attorney Andrew M. Luger, Assistant Attorney General for Civil Rights Vanita Gupta, and FBI Special Agent FBI Richard T. Thornton said in a joint statement.
The federal agencies are conducting an independent investigation. The Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension (BCA) is also investigating the shooting. Local police have said that Clark was “disrupting” their assistance to an assault victim. Police were reportedly called to the scene over a domestic violence incident involving Clark and his girlfriend.
“A physical altercation took place with the suspect, who was not in handcuffs. At some point during the struggle, an officer discharged his weapon, striking the suspect,” the Minneapolis Police Department said.
Reports indicate Clark was shot in the head. He was taken off life support and died the following day.
The Minneapolis Police Department began issuing body cameras to officers last year, according to its website, but it does not appear that the two officers involved in Clark’s death were wearing them. Police say witnesses and nearby surveillance cameras captured some, but not all, of the incident.
Protestors have been demanding the release of the video and are questioning why officials won’t make it public.
“If Jamar had done wrong, they would have released the tapes, it would have been out,” local resident Emma Robinson told the Washington Post.
One of the officers involved in the incident, Mark Ringgenburg, was sued for police brutality in 2010 when he was an officer in San Diego. The case was eventually dropped, after the litigant says he ran out of money to continuing pursuing it.
Protesters have been camped out by the Fourth Precinct all week. On Wednesday, police cleared the sites with “chemical irritants” and rubber bullets, but on Thursday, Black Lives Matter activists returned. Peaceful protests and a vigil continued overnight Friday.