Minneapolis Coroner Rules Jamar Clark's Death a Homicide

November 18th 2015

Kyle Jaeger

Early Sunday morning, 24-year-old Jamar Clark was shot in the head by Minneapolis police. He was transported to the hospital and died the next day, after his family took him off life support. The FBI and Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension are currently investigating the case, which has sparked protests throughout the city.

RELATED: Minneapolis Police Allegedly Shot This Handcuffed Man Execution Style

On Tuesday, the county medical examiner ruled Clark's death a homicide, and while Minnesota officials have refused to release partial video footage of the shooting, pending an internal review, witnesses say that Clark was in handcuffs when he was shot. The Minnesota Police Department disputes that claim, however.

Few details about what led up to the shooting are known. Police say that Clark, who was suspected of assaulting his girlfriend on Sunday, had interfered with emergency responders, causing them to return to the scene.

"A physical altercation took place with the suspect, who was not in handcuffs," the department said in a statement. "At some point during the struggle, an officer discharged his weapon, striking the suspect."

But by the time that Clark was shot, a group of bystanders had surrounded the scene, and several witnesses claim that the suspect was not resisting. In fact, they say, he was unarmed and handcuffed. State Bureau of Criminal Apprehension Superintendent Drew Evans said Tuesday that authorities found handcuffs on the scene but could not determine if they had been placed on Clark.

"The young man was just laying there; he was not resisting arrest," Teto Wilson, a barber shop owner, who witnessed the incident, said in a statement released through the Minneapolis NAACP. "Two officers were surrounding the victim on the ground, an officer maneuvered his body around to shield Jamar's body, and I heard the shot go off.

Black Lives Matter activists took to the streets in the hours and days following the shooting, demanding that authorities release footage of the incident. They staged a protest outside of the Minneapolis Police Department on Monday, and later that day, protestors formed a line across a freeway, blocking traffic. Police arrested 51 people before the freeway was reopened, the Associated Press reported.

Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension Supt. Drew Evans said on Tuesday that the agency had received several video accounts of the shooting but that none of them showed the incident in its entirety. "The videos came from an ambulance, a public housing building, the cell phones of bystanders and a police mobile video station," the Star Tribute reported. "There is no video from any police car or officer body cameras."

Evans also released the names of the two officers involved in the incident: Minneapolis police officers Mike Ringgenberg and Dustin Schwarze, both of whom have been placed on paid administrative leave pending an investigation.

"I want justice for my people," Minneapolis NAACP president Nekima Levy-Pounds said in a video posted on the chapter's Twitter account on Monday. "I'm tired of our people being killed like animals in the streets, and there being a lack of accountability within this criminal justice system. I'm not afraid. I'm sick and tired of this."