The ACLU and NAACP filed a lawsuit on Tuesday asking state officials in Minnesota to release video footage showing Minneapolis police officers fatally shooting Jamar Clark last year.
Clark, a black 24-year-old, was shot in November and died the following day, sparking extended protests in Minneapolis. Police said Clark was the suspect in an assault when he encountered two police officers on Nov. 15 and, according to authorities, was interfering with paramedics trying to treat the assault victim. Clark was unarmed during the encounter, according to police.
Demonstrators have called for police to release the video footage of the shooting. Some witnesses have said Clark was handcuffed when he was shot; police have said that did not appear to be the case and said there were handcuffs at the scene.
“Our community is in a great deal of pain as a result of the shooting of Jamar Clark at the hands of the Minneapolis Police Department,” Nekima Levy-Pounds, president of the NAACP Minneapolis, said in a statement. “It’s imperative that we demand accountability and transparency, which includes being able to gain access to the video footage of this tragic incident.”
The American Civil Liberties Union’s Minnesota group and the NAACP’s Minneapolis branch filed the lawsuit in state court arguing that under Minnesota law, video footage of the shooting is considered public and must be released. Clark’s family is not involved with the case, the groups said Tuesday.
Releasing the footage would “help inform the public whether the police acted appropriately when they wielded deadly force,” the suit states.
Investigators have said they reviewed “several videos” related to Clark’s shooting, but none of them captured it in its entirety, Drew Evans, superintendent of the state’s Bureau of Criminal Apprehension, said after Clark died.
The bureau, part of the state’s Department of Public Safety, is investigating the shooting at the request of the Minneapolis Police Department. Evans has said the investigation could potentially last until March.
Evans, the bureau and the Public Safety Department are named in the complaint.
These videos include footage from a nearby ambulance, a public housing authority camera and a cellphone video taken by someone in the vicinity, Evans said. Gov. Mark Dayton (D) said he has viewed the ambulance video and thought it was inconclusive.
The two officers involved in the shooting — Mark Ringgenberg and Dustin Schwarze — have been placed on leave during the investigation.
On Tuesday, Bruce Gordon, spokesman for the Department of Public Safety, said that he could not directly comment on pending litigation, but said that the agency would release videos and other information “once the case is closed as we would in any other investigation.”
“Releasing any evidence, including video, prior to the completed investigation and prosecutorial review is detrimental to the case,” Gordon said in a statement.
Clark’s death occurred amid increased scrutiny nationwide over how police officers use deadly force, with protests cropping up in cities from coast to coast during this heightened focus.
After he was shot, heated protests began outside a Minneapolis police station. Gunfire near the protests in Minneapolis injured five people, raising concerns about the tense situation outside the station.
Demonstrators said the shooting started after a group of people was seen recording the protests. When protesters followed that group, a scuffle broke out and shots were fired, they said. The following week, authorities announced charges against four men in that shooting.
While this was unfolding in Minneapolis, protests also erupted in Chicago after police there released footage of an officer killing a 17-year-old. That officer was charged with first-degree murder.
This story has been updated.