Is Minneapolis having a Ferguson moment? (+video)
A young black man was shot Sunday morning. A state investigation has been launched, but details surrounding the incident remain undisclosed by the police.
Jeff Wheeler/Star Tribune/AP
In the early hours of Sunday morning, a Minneapolis, Minn. police officer shot a young black man, according to local news reports.
Full details surrounding the incident are incomplete, protests have burst across the community following the shooting of whom family members and the Minneapolis chapter of the NAACP identify as Jamar Clark, age 24.
This has not been confirmed by the police, and the the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension has launched an independent investigation. The most crucial facts of the case are still contended: Eyewitnesses say the man had been handcuffed and shot in the head while he was lying down. Investigators say otherwise.
Here’s what we do know about the case: Around 12:45 a.m. Sunday, the police were called to the scene of an assault. Minneapolis deputy police chief Bruce Folkens said at a news conference that they had intel that the suspect was keeping the paramedics from treating the victim.
And then a “physical altercation” took place between the paramedics and the suspect, Folkens said. A shot was fired, and the suspect was taken to Hennepin County Medical Center.
The police say he is in critical condition. According to family members, however, a physician had told them that Clark is now brain dead. One relative told the Minneapolis Star Tribune that he was shot “execution style.”
Nekelia Sharp, a neighbor from across the street, said there had been an argument between Clark and his girlfriend, and an ambulance was called. When paramedics were treating the girlfriend, Sharp said, Clark tried to talk to her – then he was handcuffed and shot.
Another neighbor posted her account on Facebook.
“There were literally dozens of witnesses looking from the apartments,” she wrote. “The crowd said that the police already had him down on the ground when they shot him. I heard a shot and got there within seconds. All the witnesses were yelling they shot the man while he was already down and handcuffed.”
As the throng of bystanders lingered at the scene, shouting, police called for backup. Scanner audio from that night indicates that an officer had requested every available squad car. “We’ve got a big crowd,” he was heard saying. “We need a lot of cops.”
Some witnesses say they were pepper-sprayed.
Minneapolis police chief Janeé Harteau said in a press conference Sunday afternoon that preliminary evidence shows that the suspect was not in handcuffs. The two police officers involved in the incident have been put on paid administrative leave.
“I want to acknowledge this is a very difficult situation for everyone involved,” Harteau said. “We’ve spoken with the man’s family and we’ve reached out to many community leaders.”
“We need to know exactly what happened,” she continued. “We need to know the truth. Everyone involved needs that and deserves that.”
She urged people with information about the incident to come forward and contact the BCA.
In the meantime, hundreds of Black Lives Matter activists protested at the scene of the shooting since 3 p.m. Sunday. Demanding the release of security footage from a nearby building and a federal investigation into the incident, the protesters rallied into the evening.
They did not attend a nearby community meeting called by Minneapolis mayor Betsy Hodges at the local Urban League office nearby, though it did not last long as people were yelling “Justice for who? Jamar!”
Jason Sole, a professor at Metropolitan State University and a member of the local NAACP chapter, is among the group calling for justice.
“We’ve been saying for a long time that Minneapolis was one bullet away from Ferguson,” he said. “Well, that bullet was fired last night.”