MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — We are hearing for the first time from the Minneapolis police officers who shot and killed Jamar Clark.
Officers Mark Ringgenberg and Dustin Schwarze were called to Plymouth Avenue in November on reports of a domestic situation where the alleged abuser was still at the scene.
Related: Timeline Of The Jamar Clark Case
As soon as Officers Ringgenberg and Schwartze arrived on scene, they were met by a paramedic supervisor who pointed to Jamar Clark as the man trying to get into the back of the ambulance.
“My crew believes this is the suspect in the assault and he’s trying to gain access. Can you deal with it?” the supervisor told the officers.
The officers explain what happened during the exchange that lasted just over a minute in more than two hours of recorded interviews.
Ringgenberg’s interview lasted half an hour, while Schwarze spoke with investigators for about an hour and a half.
Both described their initial encounter with Clark as weird. They say he had “a thousand-mile stare.”
“It made me a little nervous just the look, and so I walked towards him and I told him to take his hands out of his pockets, and he refused,” Ringgenberg said. “And so as I was doing that I pulled my gun from my holster, I held it right in front of me and I never pointed it at him, but I just walked towards him and I told him several more times, ‘Take your hands out of your pockets,’ and he still refused. And all he would do is he would just yell, ‘What’s the pistol for?'”
It was then Ringgenberg says he was forced to take Clark down. He says during the takedown he was on Clark’s side in a weird position.
Ringgenberg says he tried to roll away, but his gun went from his right hip to the small of his back. It was then he says Clark went for his gun.
“I tell Dustin, ‘He’s got my gun.’ And so I’m on my back and I’m trying to reach around, but I’m in such a weird angle with him underneath me and my gun in the small of my back,” Ringgenberg said. “I’m trying to hold my gun down. All I can do is get the back of my hand on top of my gun. And so I feel his whole hand, he’s got the whole gun.”
Officer Schwarze says when he and Ringgenberg arrived on scene, paramedics pointed to Clark as the person trying to stop them from helping their patient.
It was then Schwarze said they approached Clark.
“I said, ‘Take your hands out of your pockets.’ At the same time I was saying that, my partner was also saying, ‘Take your hands out of your pockets,'” Schwarze said.
He says Clark had his head tilted down. When he got within arm’s length, he says he reached for Clark.
“Simultaneously I grabbed his left arm, my partner holstered his gun and grabbed the male’s right arm,” Schwarze said. “I had to physically pull his hand out of his pocket.”
Schwarze says there was a struggle to get Clark’s arms behind his back so they could handcuff him. He says Riggenberg used a maneuver to take him down.
Schwarze says he watched as his partner struggled with Clark, and then yelled, “He has my gun!”
“I put my gun on the side of his head, it was the left side of his head. And I was so … scared, and just, I thought he had the gun. I thought, I thought that shots were going to ring out,” Schwarze said. “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 told investigators his gun did not go off the first time, and it was the second shot that ended the struggle with Clark.
Both officers said during the interviews that Clark told them he was ready to die, and each time they told him they were going to shoot.
Ringgenberg says Schwarze saved his life, and the lives of those around, by shooting Clark.