Prosecutors in Minnesota announced Wednesday that there will be no grand jury proceedings to determine whether to indict any of the Minneapolis police officers who were involved in the fatal shooting of Jamar Clark.
Instead, Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman said his office will decide whether there is sufficient evidence to charge the officers in the November death of Clark, a 24-year-old African American who was unarmed at the time of his death.
“This is my job and I will do it as fairly as I can,” Freeman said during a midday news conference.
Clark was shot Nov. 15 when he encountered two police officers. Police said Clark was the suspect in an assault and was interfering with paramedics attempting to treat the assault victim.
He died the next day.
His death prompted protests from people in the community who claimed Clark was fatally wounded while he was in handcuffs and urged authorities to release the video footage of the shooting.
Authorities have said that although handcuffs were at the scene, the claim that Clark was cuffed did not not appear to be true.
The American Civil Liberties Union’s Minnesota chapter and the NAACP’s Minneapolis branch filed the lawsuit in state court last month, arguing that under Minnesota law, video footage of the shooting is considered public and must be released.
Clark’s family was not involved with the case, the groups said.
Releasing the footage would “help inform the public whether the police acted appropriately when they wielded deadly force,” according to the lawsuit.
Investigators have said they reviewed “several videos” related to Clark’s shooting, but none of them captured it in its entirety.
On Wednesday, the Hennepin County prosecutor talked about the longtime precedent using grand juries in police shootings cases but said he decided against it.
“The ensuing months have given me more time to think about the grand jury,” Freeman told reporters. “As an elected official, I also took that time to meet with more people and listen to their concerns. I concluded that the accountability and transparency limitations of a grand jury are too high a hurdle to overcome.
“So, at this point in time, and in a democracy where we continually strive to make our systems fairer, more just and more accountable, we in Hennepin County will not use the grand jury in the Jamar Clark case.”
Furthermore, Freeman said, grand juries will no longer be used in such cases in Hennepin County.
Authorities have said their investigation into the fatal shooting could last until the end of March, but they did not discuss details during Wednesday’s news conference.
Mark Berman contributed to this report.