Local leaders call to reopen Clark case

The Mpls. NAACP and Black Lives Matter publicly pressed for a reinvestigation Tuesday.

Youssef Rddad

After Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman announced he would not prosecute two police officers in the shooting death of Jamar Clark, the Minneapolis NAACP and Black Lives Matter are calling for another investigation in light of revised witness statements.
 
 
During a downtown press conference Monday, RayAnn Hayes, the woman who was with Clark on the night he was killed, insisted Clark did not assault her — contrary to statements she previously gave investigators.
 
 
“We believe that the information that is coming forward, both through RayAnn Hayes and Teto Wilson [a witness to the shooting], are grounds for there to be a reopening of the investigation into the shooting death of Jamar Clark,” said Minneapolis NAACP president Nekima Levy-Pounds Monday
 
 
Levy-Pounds also called for the appointment of a special prosecutor to re-examine the case. 
 
 
A spokesman for the Minnesota Attorney General’s office said Tuesday the office could not comment further without a formal request from the NAACP. 
 
 
Freeman defended his decision in a statement following Monday’s gathering, citing that Hayes initially identified Clark as her assailant and changed her story months later. 
 
 
“I am convinced that if one reads the entire record available [online] and applies the mandated legal standard, they will agree that no charges can be brought against the police officers,” Freeman said in his statement. 
 
 
During Monday’s conference, Hayes said Freeman misstated her relationship with Clark. 
 
 
“We were just friends,” she said, adding that she did not call 911 for medical assistance after injuring her ankle. “I don’t even know where that story came from.”
In Freeman’s testimony last week, he said Hayes told a paramedic that Clark had injured her. 
 
 
An interview transcript with a Minneapolis police sergeant on Nov. 15  includes testimony both affirming and denying the assault. 
 
 
According to the transcript, made public last week, Hayes told police that Clark had head-butted her. 
 
 
Later in the interview, she said she did not know Clark well and that he did not beat her.
 
 
“I’m telling you what happened,” she told a police interviewer. “No one beat me.”
 
 
Minneapolis Black Lives Matter founder Mica Grimm said she felt the evidence Freeman presented last week relied too heavily on police, more than on witness accounts of the incident.
 
 
“It goes without saying that the officers have everything to lose by creating this narrative. Witnesses don’t have anything to gain by making up testimony,” she said. 
 
 
Minneapolis Mayor Betsy Hodges and Police Chief Janee Harteau last week called for a federal criminal investigation into the shooting. 
 
 
After the initial Bureau of Criminal Apprehension investigation, the Department of Justice’s Civil Rights Office and U.S. Attorney’s Office will determine whether to bring any charges. 
 
 
But federal charges in cases where a state does not file them are rare, said former federal prosecutor and Minneapolis attorney Jon Hopeman. 
 
 
To federally charge the police involved in Clark’s shooting, Hopeman said prosecutors would have to prove police violated Clark’s civil rights using the same evidence Freeman and the BCA reviewed.
 
 
Hopeman also added that Hayes’ recent account of the incident is unlikely to change Freeman’s decision. 
 
 
“She’s a totally worthless witness at this point having said two opposite things,” Hopeman said, adding that defense attorneys would draw on past statements during cross-examinations.