MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — The officer-involved shooting death of Jamar Clark last November rocked Minnesota.
It sparked a nearly 20-day protest outside of Minneapolis Police’s 4th Precinct building, led by the group Black Lives Matter Minneapolis.
Though the almost three-week-long demonstrations were largely peaceful, protesters occasionally clashed with police, and protesters were even shot by counter-protesters on one occasion.
Police say Clark tried to take an officer’s gun in a struggle during a domestic abuse call. But several witnesses claim Clark was handcuffed when he was shot in the head by one of the officers involved — Mark Ringgenberg and Dustin Schwarze.
One of the demands Black Lives Matter made to police, city and state leaders was to forgo the use of a grand jury to decide if the officers should face criminal charges.
Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman announced mid-March that a grand jury would not be used, and his office would make the decision whether to press charges.
Here is a timeline of events in the Jamar Clark case:
Nov. 15, 2015
Jamar Clark is shot in the head by Minneapolis Police at about 1 a.m. on the 1600 block of Plymouth Avenue North. He is taken to Hennepin County Medical Center in downtown Minneapolis.
Police say they were called to the block on a report that a man had assaulted his girlfriend and was interfering with paramedics at the scene.
Clark allegedly struggled with officers before he was shot. Witnesses claim Clark was handcuffed on the ground when he was shot, which police and the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Investigation immediately disputed. The officers were not wearing body cameras.
Nov. 16, 2015
Minneapolis Mayor Betsy Hodges and Rep. Keith Ellison call for the United States Department of Justice to investigate the shooting.
Forty-two people are arrested after protesters march onto Interstate 94, disrupting traffic for nearly two-and-a-half hours.
Nov. 17, 2015
Black Lives Matter holds a press conference and calls for the names of the officers to be released.
The BCA says they will only release the names of officers involved once interviews have been completed. They also announce they have video of the shooting via cellphones, mobile police cameras on the block and surveillance video from the Elks Club across the street from the scene – but the shooting was not completely captured.
The FBI announces they will start a civil rights investigation of the shooting.
Protesters begin building an encampment in the middle of Plymouth Avenue outside of the 4th Precinct building.
Nov. 18, 2015
Lt. Bob Kroll, president of the Minneapolis Police Officers Federation, says Clark reached for an officer’s gun before he was shot. Kroll added that he hopes witnesses who claim Clark was handcuffed when he was shot will make statements to the BCA.
“If it turns out to be blatantly false, they should be charged with a crime,” Kroll said.
Police remove demonstrators from the 4th Precinct building vestibule in the afternoon, and tensions rise. Protesters and police clash after someone throws part of a brick at the building. The unrest lasts through the night.
Police say bottles and bricks were thrown at officers, and several squad cars in the precinct’s lot were damaged. Protesters say police were using chemical irritants on them.
Clark’s family calls for peaceful protest, saying that he was a non-violent man.
Members of Black Lives Matter go to Mayor Betsy Hodges home to ask her to defuse the situation, but only Hodges’ husband — Gary Cunningham — is home. He lets them in and talks briefly with them.
Nov. 19, 2015
Tensions between police and protesters remain high. Mayor Hodges meets with members of Black Lives Matter at Minneapolis City Hall and tells them while she supports their right to protest, she agrees with MPD’s decision to remove protesters out of public safety concerns.
Minneapolis’ chapter of the NAACP holds a press conference to demand the release of videos of the shooting, which officials refuse.
“It’s a tale of two cities,” Nekima Levy-Pounds, president of the Minneapolis NAACP, said. “It’s the best of times if you’re white and the worst of times if you’re black.”
Lt. Kroll criticizes the mayor on WCCO Radio, saying that she will not let MPD crack down on protesters because they are the ones who voted her into office. He also dubbed the lead-up to Clark’s death as “criminal behavior by a violent person.”
“I don’t think that all 19 arrests by Mr. Clark were by accident or coincidence,” Kroll said. “At age 24, 19 arrests and a criminal suspect in four others just in the city of Minneapolis isn’t by accident.”
Minneapolis Police Chief Janée Harteau says in a press conference that the 4th Precinct has suffered almost $40,000 in damage, and Molotov cocktails were thrown near officers in the previous night’s unrest – which she blames on anarchists.
WCCO reports on the background of the officers involved, and how both Ringgenberg and Schwarze have faced federal lawsuits in the past regarding excessive force.
Black Lives Matter protesters are joined in the evening by Rep. Ellison and several Minneapolis city council members, who call for Gov. Mark Dayton to convince the FBI to release footage of Clark’s shooting.
Nov. 20, 2015
Chief Harteau and Lt. Kroll butt heads on WCCO Radio over the Clark case, with Kroll describing what is happening at the 4th Precinct as Harteau’s “Benghazi.”
Three activists from Communities United Against Police Brutality are removed from a Minneapolis City Council meeting.
Jamar Clark’s family tells WCCO that he was in the midst of escaping his troubled past when he was killed.
Gov. Dayton and Mayor Hodges meet with national and state leaders from the NAACP at the governor’s mansion in St. Paul.
Protesters hold a candlelit vigil for Clark outside of the 4th Precinct, while the FBI and the U.S. Attorney’s Office reiterate that they will not release footage of the shooting while the investigation is ongoing.
Nov. 21, 2015
Union members rally with Black Lives Matter and community protesters outside of the 4th Precinct early in the day, while Gov. Dayton and Rep. Ellison meet with Clark’s family to offer their condolences.
Dayton urges investigators to allow the family to view the footage they have of the shooting.
Nov. 22, 2015
Nov. 23, 2015
Gov. Dayton announces that he has viewed video footage of the night Clark was shot, and calls it “inconclusive.”
“And it’s just a very brief fragment where Mr. Clark and one of the officers are encountering each other, and then they disappear from sight and there is no other view of them until one of the officers after,” Dayton said. “And there’s no audio, but it appears after the shot was fired one of the officers comes back into the camera view.”
The group ColorOfChange announces that they have gathered about 70,000 signatures online to call for the released of the footage.
Five protesters are shot at night near the 4th Precinct. Witnesses say the gunmen are white supremacists who have been seen hanging around the encampment, often masked.
Nov. 24, 2015
Five men are arrested in connection with the protester shootings, and one is later released. Black Lives Matter leaders say the shootings will not deter the protest.
Hundreds of protesters march from the 4th Precinct building to Minneapols City Hall, while Clark’s brother calls for an end of the occupation out of concern of public safety.
Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman announces that a grand jury will decide if Officers Ringgenberg and Schwarze will be charged with Clark’s death.
Nov. 25, 2015
“I join in the community’s mourning for Jamar Clark, and for all of the Jamar Clarks who propel the protesters to demand meaningful change,” Ellison said.
Nov. 30, 2015
On the 15th day of the 4th Precinct occupation, Mayor Hodges and Rep. Ellison call for an end of the encampment out of concern for public safety, especially since Plymouth Avenue is such a major artery in north Minneapolis. Black Lives Matter leaders resist the call.
Dec. 1, 2015
The four men arrested in connection to the shooting of five protesters near the 4th Precinct make their first court appearance.
Allen “Lance” Scarsella, 23, is charged with five counts of second-degree assault and one count of second-degree rioting. The other three men — Joseph Backman, 27; Daniel Macey, 26; and Nathan Wayne Gustavsson, 21 — are each charged with one count of second-degree rioting.
Gov. Dayton asks protesters to “move on,” and announces he wants a special session to address racial disparities in Minnesota.
Dec. 2, 2015
Police say the 4th Precinct encampment is hampering emergency response in the area.
Dec. 3, 2015
After 18 days, the occupation of the 4th Precinct ends. Eight protesters are arrested while the area is cleared. Hundreds of protesters then rally at Minneapolis City Hall.
Dec. 7, 2015
Video is released of a previous arrest of Jamar Clark. Footage conflicts with claims of extreme police brutality that Clark alleged afterwards.
Dec. 8, 2015
A Minnesota lawmaker announces he is working on a bill that would increase the penalties for anyone who interferes with medical workers – the reason police were called to the scene of Clark’s eventual shooting.
Dec. 9, 2015
A Minneapolis City Council member calls for an amendment to fund a project to fortify the 4th Precinct building, which was struck down later in the day.
Dec. 15, 2015
Allen “Lance” Scarsella’s lawyer is denied a request to lower his bail, which was set at $500,000.
Dec. 23, 2015
Twelve Black Lives Matter protesters are arrested after a protest that starts at Mall of America, and then shifts to Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport. Gov. Dayton says the protest caused a “very, very dangerous situation.”
Jan. 6, 2016
Nathan Gustavsson, one of the men charged in connection with the shooting of 4th Precinct protesters, has his bail dropped from $250,000 to $100,000.
Feb. 2, 2016
Mayor Hodges and Chief Harteau ask the DOJ to investigate the city’s response to the 4th Precinct occupation.
Feb. 9, 2016
The Minnesota chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union and the Minneapolis NAACP file a lawsuit against the BCA, demanding the release of footage of Clark’s shooting.
Feb. 10, 2016
The BCA announces the end of their investigation of Clark’s shooting death, turning over the case to the Hennepin County Attorney’s Office.
Feb. 12, 2016
About 40 protesters enter the office of Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman to demand that he charge Officers Ringgenberg and Schwarze for Clark’s death.
March 2, 2016
The DOJ agrees to investigate the city’s response to the 18-day occupation of the 4th Precinct.
March 10, 2016
The Hennepin County Attorney’s Office and the BCA give one final call for witnesses of Clark’s shooting to come forward, while a Minnesota lawmaker says he wants to find a way to bill MOA protesters for law enforcement costs in order to save taxpayers money.
March 16, 2016
Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman announces that his office – and not a grand jury – will decide if Officers Ringgenberg and Schwarze will face criminal charges for Clark’s death.
March 24, 2016
Chief Harteau warns citizens against any acts of violence or vandalism when Freeman makes his decision on whether or not to charge the officers.
March 25, 2016
Members of Minneapolis’ NAACP chapter and other civil rights groups express outrage over Harteau’s comments at a press conference in front of Minneapolis City Hall. Levy-Pounds says the police chief’s comments were divisive and suggests that a decision in the case had already been made.
March 26, 2016
Hundreds gather at the Hennepin County Government Center in downtown Minneapolis for the “Justice 4 Jamar” rally.
“We are tired of all this,” said James Clark, Jamar’s father. “There needs to be justice.”
Nekima Levy-Pounds gives a warning to the county attorney.
“Mike Freeman, if you do not uphold the law you will be out in 2018,” Levy-Pounds said.
March 30, 2016
Freeman announces that his office will not file criminal charges against Officers Schwarze and Ringgenberg.
GALLERY: Jamar Clark Ruling
He cites evidence that Clark’s DNA was found on the Ringgenberg’s gun grip, and there was no bruising on his wrists — which both backs the officers’ stories that he was not handcuffed and he had reached for one of their weapons.
The officers told investigators that Clark announced during their 61-second confrontation that he was “ready to die.”
An NAACP member states during the press conference, “If the city burns, it’s on [Freeman’s] hands.”
GALLERY: Police Photos From Jamar Clark Scene
Mayor Hodges says at a joint press conference with Chief Harteau that she supports peaceful demonstrations in the wake of the announcement. Harteau agrees, but warns protesters to not block first responders and emergency vehicles.
Lt. Kroll says in a press conference that the Clark investigation was the most transparent one he has seen in his career, and expresses frustration with the Minneapolis NAACP.
“I don’t know what more they want,” Kroll said. “When you don’t get the outcome you want … you don’t revert to hostility.”
He adds, “[Ringgenberg and Schwarze’s] families have been through hell.”
Gov. Mark Dayton expresses condolences to Clark’s family and friends, while praising Freeman’s transparency during the investigation.
Cameron Clark tells WCCO that his cousin’s death did not reflect his life.
“Jamar wasn’t a bad person,” Clark said. “Even when Jamar was down, you would never know. He was always smiling.”
Hundreds march through downtown Minneapolis in protest.
GALLERY: Protesters Gather Across Minneapolis
March 31, 2016
A witness to Clark’s shooting tells WCCO he was not resisting arrest before he was shot.
“I didn’t see any fighting between Jamar Clark and any of those officers,” Teto Wilson said.
Freeman defends his decision not to charge the officers in an interview, and criticizes Nekima Levy-Pounds.
“She’s a lawyer. I think Lawyers have an obligation to people to read the evidence carefully with a critical eye,” Freeman said. “I really hope she does that, and I’m not as certain she will be as critical when she does.”
The “San Diego Takedown” move used by Officer Ringgenberg on Clark before the shooting is place under further scrutiny.
Lt. Kroll tells WCCO that officers are trained to take suspects off their feet if they pose a threat.
RayAnn Hayes, Clark’s alleged victim on the night of his shooting, speaks exclusively with WCCO’s Reg Chapman. She says she was never Clark’s girlfriend and he never beat her up.
“No dispute. No domestic. None of that,” Hayes said.
April 1, 2016
Protesters gather at Freeman’s office at the Hennepin County Attorney Center, and plan to do so weekly for what they call “Freeman Fridays.”
RayAnn Hayes comes under scrutiny for her conflicting accounts of the night of Clark’s shooting. Minneapolis police say she changed her story at least three times.
“First they’re saying that I said he didn’t do it, then it says on page 12 it says she did do it. What do you mean?” Hayes said. “I never once said he did it, not one time, not one time to anyone … because it didn’t happen.”
April 4, 2016
RayAnn Hayes speaks out in person at a Black Lives Matter press conference, reiterating Clark’s innocence.
“There was an altercation. I tried to break it up. Jamar tried to stop it, and I pulled away from him. I fell, I twisted my ankle,” Hayes said.
April 5, 2016
Mike Freeman says nearly 70,000 people have gone on to the Hennepin County Attorney’s website to look at the evidence in the investigation.
“There are 132 BCA reports, there are 1,300 pages of documents, there’s an autopsy, there’s forensic evidence from the labs, there’s more video,” said Freeman. “I have to say we have released an unprecedented amount of material, so people can decide on their own.”
Audio of interviews with officers Ringgenberg and Schwarze are released to the public
“The only thing I could think of to do was to save our lives, and anybody else that was in that immediate area of any danger, so I pulled the trigger,” Schwarze said.
April 11, 2016
Minnesota Senator Scott Dibble proposes legislation that would require a special prosecutor to handle cases where police use deadly force.
“This is not about Mike Freeman … or calling into question anything that Mike Freeman has done,” Dibble said.
More than 100 Catholic workers and clergy members join hands and effectively shut down Target Field’s light rail station during the Minnesota Twins’ home opener. Twenty-five protesters are arrested.
April 15, 2016
Several people, including Clark’s family members, aim to reoccupy the area outside of the 4th Precinct, but their efforts are short-lived.
June 1, 2016
Federal officials announce they will not file civil rights charges against Ringgenberg and Schwarze, citing insufficient evidence and conflicting accounts from witnesses.
Nekima Levy-Pounds says protesters were not allowed at the press conference. She also says the decision proves that African Americans are still treated as second-class citizens.
Lt. Bob Kroll says Ringgenberg and Schwarze are vindicated, and calls Black Lives Matter a “terrorist organization.”