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Prosecutor in Jamar Clark Police Shooting Decides Against Grand Jury, Family Cheers Small Victory

Hennepin County attorney Mike Freeman cited that lack of accountability and transparency as reasons to stop using grand juries in police shooting cases, starting with that of Jamar Clark. Photo by Elizabeth Flores/AP

Hennepin County attorney Mike Freeman cited that lack of accountability and transparency as reasons to stop using grand juries in police shooting cases, starting with that of Jamar Clark. Photo by Elizabeth Flores/AP

Attorney Mike Freeman told news outlets Wednesday that he will not convene a grand jury to decide whether to charge two Minneapolis police officers in the shooting death of a 24-year-old Black man, Jamar Clark, last November.

“The accountability and transparency limitations of a grand jury are too high a hurdle to overcome,” Freeman said. “We at Hennepin County will not use a grand jury in the Jamar Clark case.”

Atlanta Blackstar reported that Jamar Clark was allegedly shot while handcuffed following a domestic dispute with his girlfriend. Eyewitnesses reported that the man was still in police handcuffs and unarmed when they heard a gunshot. He died in a local hospital.

After Clark’s death, Black Lives Matter activists descended on the city of Minneapolis to demand justice. Many protesters occupied the front of the Fourth Precinct police station in the days following the shooting. Protesters also took over major highways to demand answers.

Their activism was met with violent backlash. Three white men — Allen Lawrence “Lance” Scarsella III, Nathan Gustavsson and Daniel Macey — were arrested for shooting at protesters. Hennepin County Attorney Freeman did not charge the men with terrorism initially.

Freeman’s announcement was seen by protesters and Clark’s family members as a small victory.

The news came as a surprise to many people who did not expect an open trial. Cases like these are usually turned over to a closed and secretive grand jury with no transparency.

Minneapolis Police Chief Janee Harteau said in a statement that she respected his “challenging decision.”

“The legal standards and thresholds remain the same, whether this case is looked at by a grand jury or reviewed by the county attorney,” she said.

In previous statements about the case, Freeman said he hoped to decide by the end of March whether to charge the officers.

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