No charges against officers in Jamar Clark shooting

Reports show DNA on officer’s holster and gun

Youssef Rddad

Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman announced Wednesday morning he would not press criminal charges against two officers for the shooting death of Jamar Clark last fall.

The decision not to charge officers Mark Ringgenberg and Dustin Schwarze comes after months of tension, with numerous protests raising criticism of police practices across the Twin Cities.

Speaking at the county courthouse, Freeman said charges weren’t justified as forensic evidence showed 24 year-old Clark’s DNA on officer Ringgenberg’s gun and holster, and showed Clark was not handcuffed when officer Schwarze fatally shot him.

Freeman had the final say on whether to charge the two officers after announcing last week he would not use a grand jury, which has been used in past high profile police shooting cases.

“Criminal charges are not warranted against either officer,” he said.

Officers struggled to handcuff Clark after responding to an early morning domestic dispute between Clark and his girlfriend.

Freeman said Schwarze attempted to handcuff Clark after both officers told him to take his hands out of his pockets, which led to a struggle.

Recounting the events, Freeman said Schwarze heard Ringgenberg say, “He’s got my gun” told him to shoot Clark during the struggle. Schwarze put his gun to the side of Clark’s head ordering him to let go or he would shoot, to which Clark responded, “I’m ready to die.”

Clark was shot in the head 61 seconds after officers arrived to the scene, Freeman said.

Despite differing accounts on whether Clark was handcuffed, Freeman said evidence didn’t find DNA on the inside of Schwarze’s cuffs, found on the ground near where Clark was shot.

Documents and videos of the incident are available on the Hennepin County Attorney’s website.

Still, some felt unsatisfied with information Freeman presented. 

 “We’re leaving here with more questions than answers,” said Minneapolis National Association for the Advancement of Colored People President Nekima Levy-Pounds.