Probe proves black man shot in head by cops was unarmed; death ruled homicide

© Adam Bettcher
The death of Jamar Clark, a black man who was fatally shot in head by white police officers, has officially been ruled a homicide. Investigators have confirmed that Clark was unarmed at the time and that handcuffs were found at the scene.

Clark’s body was turned over to the county medical examiner’s office for an autopsy after the 24-year old man was pronounced dead at 9:25 pm on Monday. Clark was taken off life support the day after he was admitted to a hospital.

The Hennepin County Medical Examiner concluded that Clark died of “a gunshot wound of the head” that the man sustained on November 15.

“Manner of death is Homicide,” a press release issued on Tuesday afternoon read, adding that the case is now being investigated by both the state’s Bureau of Criminal Apprehension and the FBI.

The BCA has made scant progress in determining the sequence of events that led to Clark’s death.

Speaking to reporters on Tuesday, the BCA’s superintendent, Drew Evans, said that investigators are continuing to collect videos from the scene. Footage has already been submitted by the ambulance, a public housing building, cell phones of bystanders, and a police mobile video station, he added.

“Several videos have been obtained [but] none … captured the event in its entirety,” Evans said at a press conference.

Those videos are all that the BCA and FBI have to go on so far, as it appears that neither of the police officers was wearing a body camera, nor did any of the police squad cars at the scene have dashboard recording devices.

No video images will be released to public until the investigation is complete, Evans said. This could take anywhere between two and four months.

“The video will not be released at this time, as it would impact the integrity of the investigation that is ongoing,” he told reporters.

The officers’ names will be released after they are interviewed by investigators in the next day or two, Evans added.

Releasing the video and the officers’ identities are two of the key demands listed by Black Lives Matter Minneapolis, which started a protest soon after the shooting. More than 50 people were arrested on Monday night for shutting down Interstate-94 for two hours.

Witnesses and activists claim that Clark was both unarmed and handcuffed when a white police officer shot him in the head. While authorities have confirmed that Clark had no weapon during a struggle with the officer, they can’t say for sure if he was handcuffed when he was shot.

“We’re still ongoing as to exactly how the handcuffs came into this scene,” Evans said. “There were handcuffs on the scene at the time. And we are still examining whether or not they were on Mr. Clark or whether they were just fallen at the scene.”

Mayor Betsy Hodges has requested a federal civil rights investigation, which satisfied another of protesters demands. Minneapolis Police Chief Janee Harteau told MPR News that the US Justice Department has agreed to investigate the case.

Jamar Clark was fatally wounded in a tussle with police, who claim the man was interfering with paramedics administering aid to his girlfriend.

As part of the protests over the incident, activists have been occupying the area outside the Fourth Precinct police headquarters for three days now, several blocks west of where Clark was shot.

On Sunday evening, the group said it would protest until the video and the names of police officers were released.