Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Potentially Tainted? Investigators Conceal Video of Jamar Clark's Death

Jamar Clark taken off life support Monday
The news that 24-year old Jamar Clark (pictured left) has died as a result of the gunshot wound to the head he received from one of two as-yet unnamed Minneapolis police officers early Sunday morning is a real kick in the gut to the idea of America as a place of "liberty and justice for all" that's governed by the rule of law.

A couple hours ago the LA Times reported that the county medical examiner announced that they are ruling Clark's death a homicide.

Minneapolis Mayor Betsy Hodges has already called for a federal investigation of the circumstances surrounding his death.

If the reports turn out to be true that he was interfering with the ability of EMT workers who were trying to assist a woman that he was suspected of assaulting, then of course he deserved to be subdued, arrested and taken to court to face the appropriate charges.

But did the guy deserve to die?

Like so many other young men of color who've lost their lives to members of law enforcement in highly-publicized incidents, Clark was unarmed at the time he got into a confrontation with the two Minneapolis police officers who arrived at the scene outside an apartment building.

But widespread reports from witnesses at the scene are suggesting that he was also handcuffed when one of the officers allegedly leaned over Clark's body, put a knee on him and shot him in the head at point blank range.

BCA Superintendent Drew Evans
According to Drew Evans (pictured left), Superintendent of the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension, a pair of handcuffs were found at the scene, but no determination has yet been made as to whether Clark was actually cuffed when he was shot.

The BCA confirms they have multiple sources of video taken of the incident, including from an ambulance at the scene, exterior security cameras from the apartment building where the incident took place and from several people who captured video on cell phones; but no single source shows everything that led up to the actual shooting - or what happened in it's entirety.

Prosecutors, members of the Clark family and protesters have called for the video to be released, but Evans says the BCA won't release any of the video out of concerns that doing so "may potentially taint portions of the investigation."

From my experience (and it's just an opinion) when investigators express reluctance to release video surveillance of fatal cop shootings, more often than not there's something on the video that's not going to be good for the two cops in question.

Protesters block traffic across I-94 in Minneapolis
The incident has sparked a series of protests across Minneapolis and dozens were arrested after a multi-ethnic, multiracial group of people (pictured left) intentionally blocked traffic across I-94 by linking hands in front of oncoming vehicles.

My guess is the two officers, who've been placed on paid leave pending an investigation, are huddling with lawyers while they try to cobble together a version of the incident that points to them fearing for their own safety.

Even though there were two of them, the guy was unarmed, and by all accounts, was already on the ground at the time that he was shot.

Did he tussle with the two officers? By all accounts he did.

But that doesn't make an unarmed man accused of assault being shot in the head by a police officer any less of an egregious example of excessive use of force.

While some media sources are already publicizing the fact that court records show he had a 2010 conviction for aggravated robbery and a conviction for making terroristic threats earlier this year, Clark's brother Mario Reed said Clark was just a 24-year old who'd made some mistakes and was actively trying to make positive changes in his life - according to Reed:

"He was trying to get his life back together, he was going to work every day. I was dropping him off every day. He worked at the car wash in northeast Minneapolis and he was just getting his life back in order," 

That chance was taken from this young man.

And now his grieving family is left to deal with the reality that Jamar Clark has joined the ranks of The Counted nine days before Thanksgiving.

By the way, according to the latest statistics in The Counted database, over 1,000 people have been killed by members of law enforcement in the United States in 2015.

"With liberty and justice for all."

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