Thursday, November 19, 2015

Black man was handcuffed when he was shot by Minneapolis police.  Why?

Reports from black witnesses to shootings have repeatedly been shown to be worthless so everything will depend on what the videos show

THE emergency call came from an ordinary looking apartment block in Minneapolis. A domestic incident, a man and his partner arguing.

When police arrived, guns drawn, they are said to have found Jamar Clark trying to prevent, or at least hindering, ambulance officers giving treatment to his partner.

Moments later Mr Clark, 24, was on his back on the pavement with a bullet hole above his eye. His heart was still beating but the wound left his brain dead, and his life support was switched off.

There is conflict about what happened in the crucial few seconds between the police arriving and Mr Clark being shot.

People watching from nearby apartments say he was on the ground, not resisting and in handcuffs. They said there were two officers standing over him before the shot was heard.

One neighbour, Nekelia Sharp, said he tried to speak to his partner; that’s when he was handcuffed and shot, she alleged.

The Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension, which is leading the investigation into what is officially a homicide, has obtained video of the scene from several sources, including police themselves and the ambulance, but will not reveal what they show.

“[We] don’t want to taint the interviews that may be ongoing with witnesses in this case and by having the videos being public we may potentially taint portions of the investigation,” Minnesota BCA superintendent Drew Evans told reporters.

However, he did confirm handcuffs were found at the scene.

For their part, police say Mr Clark was not handcuffed, but have not explained where the handcuffs came from. One possibility as they fell from an officer during the incident. But they have not said why police felt the need to shoot, which should be a last resort if they or others are in imminent danger.

In a statement, Mr Evans said there had been a “struggle” but did not directly address reports Mr Clark allegedly reached for an officer’s gun.

Supporters of Mr Clark say that he was virtually dead from the time police arrived; that a black man’s life is in far greater jeopardy than a white man’s in the same situation, while the police chief Janee Harteau said: “This incident should not and will not define us.”

The Mayor Betsy Hodges has called in federal investigators from the Department of Justice, well aware of the simmering anger in the community

“We’ve been saying for a long time that Minneapolis was one bullet away from Ferguson. Well, that bullet was fired last night,” Jason Sole, an associate professor of criminal justice at Metropolitan State University, told the local Star Tribune.

Details have emerged on social media of what officers were heard talking about on the police scanner before the shooting, including a call for backup. “We’ve got a big crowd; we need a lot of cops.”

This was in apparent response to the hysterical group of bystanders who saw the shootings and swarmed around emergency vehicles that were responding. In a video posted on Facebook by a witness, one woman was repeatedly shouting, “Y’all just killed that man!” Others stood close by taunting and pointing at police.

In the tense confrontation that followed several people were pepper sprayed to get the growing crowd back. Meanwhile, family of Mr Clark rushed to his bedside to discover there was nothing that could be done to save him.

One devastated family member told the Star Tribune he was shot in the head “execution style”.

Over the last 48 hours a rally called by Black Lives Matter a few blocks from the police headquarters with an estimated 250 people forming a barricade around the protest to form a “no cops zone”.

Protest organisers also ignored an invitation from Mayor Hodges to a formal community meeting she was conducting — at that meeting someone in the crowd loudly heckled her, while at the rally, organisers continued to maintain Mr Clark was shot while handcuffed, and doubted any official inquiry would be impartial.

So far there has not been any of the violence other US cities have faced after police shootings like the havoc wrecked in Ferguson, in Missouri, after the death of Michael Brown, an unarmed black teenager.  But if the inquiry reveals police are guilty of what has been alleged, the tense situation, which is already on a knife-edge, could explode.

Mica Grimm, an organiser with Black Lives Matter Minneapolis, was among a group of university students and activists occupying an entryway to the station.

She said people plan to stay there — taking turns for weeks, if necessary — until the officer responsible for the shooting is arrested, The Atlantic reported.  “We’re here because police officers have gotten away with murder for so long and we’re tired of it,” Ms Grimm said.

Original report here

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