Two Minneapolis police officers will not face charges in the fatal shooting in November of an unarmed black man, CNN reports.
Police claim that Jamar Clark, 24, was shot by Officer Dustin Schwarze after Clark’s altercation with another officer, Mike Ringgenberg, just steps away from the precinct headquarters. Clark was transported to a local hospital, where he died a day later.
Eyewitnesses and Clark’s family, however, claim that Clark was handcuffed when he was shot. Tensions ran high following Clark’s death as protesters staged a sit-in inside the police precinct that lasted some 18 days. The hashtag #JusticeForJamar trended on social media. The Guardian notes that protesters frequently clashed with police, and a week after Clark’s death, four men believed to be white supremacists attacked and shot some demonstrators.
According to eyewitnesses, police told protesters, “Isn’t this what you wanted?” when they came to the precinct building asking for help, The Guardian reports. Protesters who tried to help those injured were reportedly pepper-sprayed by police.
County Attorney Michael Freeman of Hennepin County, Minn., who decided against using a grand jury in determining whether charges would be brought against the officers, claimed that the investigation into the shooting did not support the theory that Clark was cuffed when he was shot. He added that he would not be pressing charges against either officer, since the shooting was in self-defense.
According to CNN, Freeman’s investigation concluded that Clark “attacked his girlfriend, interfered with paramedics attempting to transport his girlfriend to the hospital and refused officers’ demands to remove his hands from his pockets.”
Freeman invoked the names of both Mahatma Gandhi and Martin Luther King Jr. during a press conference Wednesday, in which he added: “Police have a very difficult job. They are required to make split-second decisions in situations that are changing and evolving,” The Guardian reports.
According to The Guardian, one audience member told Freeman during the press conference: “If the city burns, it is on your hands.”