MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — About 40 protesters crammed into the office of Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman on Friday to press him to prosecute two police officers who fatally shot a black man last year.
But members of the Twin Cities Coalition 4 Justice 4 Jamar Clark — named for the 24-year-old man who was fatally shot in north Minneapolis in November – were told that Freeman was not in the office.
“We’re not asking for anything extraordinary or unusual, we’re just asking that the Hennepin County prosecutor, who prosecutes lots of folks in my neighborhood every day without grand juries, to prosecute the case,” Mel Reeves, who helped organize the protest, said afterward.
Earlier this week, the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension said it had finished its investigation into the shooting, but did not provide details of what it found. Freeman said Wednesday that his office will review the file from the BCA to make sure it’s complete and determine whether additional investigation is necessary.
Freeman said weeks ago that he would present the case to a grand jury to decide whether Officers Mark Ringgenberg and Dustin Schwarze should be charged. He’s given no indication since then that he’s changed his mind.
Grand juries declined to indict police officers involved in the deaths of 12-year-old Tamir Rice in Cleveland, 18-year-old Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, and in the 2014 chokehold death of 43-year-old Eric Garner in New York.
Attorney Lolita Ulloa heard the concerns of protesters, who briefly chanted: “No grand jury!”
She told protesters that Freeman is “putting all of his efforts into reviewing (the case) and making sure that the determination from our office is the right one and that it is just.”
Clark was shot by a Minneapolis officer on Nov. 15 during what authorities said was a struggle. He died a day later. Some who said they saw the shooting have said that Clark wasn’t struggling and was handcuffed. Clark’s death prompted numerous protests, including an 18-day occupation outside a police precinct, with demonstrators demanding that video of the shooting be released.
The Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension said in November that it had video from several sources, but none showed the incident in its entirety. The BCA has said it would not release video until the case is closed to avoid possibly tainting the investigation.
Reeves, one of the protest organizers, said they plan to return to Freeman’s office every Friday to pressure the prosecutor.
“We’re going to keep coming demanding that the Hennepin County prosecutor, the prosecutor’s office, do what’s right by us,” he said. “Mike Freeman can prosecute these policemen. There’s no reason he shouldn’t.”