This is about Jamar Clark.  It is also about such basic rights, right to life, and Constitutional rights. It’s also about our obligation and responsibility to stand up when there is no justice.  As an attorney sworn to uphold the Constitution, it’s important to loudly object.  I’m not a criminal attorney, and I’ve had very little experience in criminal law, long ago, but this case stinks of _________ (corruption?  fear?  obligation?  indebtedness?).

Hot off the press:

NAACP calls for new probe into Jamar Clark shooting

Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman decided, against evidence, that he would not charge officers involved in the killing of Jamar Clark with any crime.

Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman, reconsider!

The federal review of this case is not complete, and there may be federal charges.  But that potential does not relieve Freeman of his responsibility as prosecutor.  If he’s not up for the job, he should appoint a special prosecutor for this case, and to review every case of a killing by a police officer.

Freeman was praised for his decision not to refer this case to a Grand Jury, which notoriously fail to charge police officers, this case and all such cases going forward.  But in this case, could it have been more of an issue that given the evidence different than his recitation, the very different story than the one he told, that a Grand Jury may have charged the officers?!?!  We’ll never know.

Evidence that conflicts with his recitation?  Here’s what was released and posted as evidence (but it’s NOT all inclusive):

Hennepin County’s page on County Attorney Decision and Evidence

A number of issues come up that individually or combined call Freeman’s decision of NO charges whatsoever into question.

This STrib headline and article reveals both Freeman’s defensiveness and one reason his decision makes no sense:

Freeman gives emphatic defense of decision not to charge officers, questions why officers didn’t have tasers

The police have training, experience, and equipment to handle people, and yet in this case, they didn’t even have tasers?  They threw him down in an admittedly “not favored” move?  And then one officer shot him point blank in the head, his weapon not firing the first time…

Freeman wondered why the officers did not have Tasers they possibly could have used instead of a firearm to de-escalate the conflict with Clark

All along, Clark has been presented as a domestic abuser (as if that provides justification for officers to kill him?), yet the report of the “victim” reveals she is not a “victim” of domestic assault and has come out publicly now stating this in televised interviews.  It looks as though her statement to the police has been suppressed.

Rayann Hayes Police Interview

City Pages: I wasn’t Jamar Clark’s girlfriend, and he didn’t break my ankle

Exclusive: Alleged Jamar Clark Victim Speaks Out

At issue also is Jamar Clark’s behavior, where initially it was said that he was interfering with treatment of Hayes.  That’s not how Freeman reported it at the press conference, where he said more than once that Clark was “tapping” on the ambulance doors.  Hayes’ statement reports conversation going on in the ambulance where those treating her were pushing the “domestic assault” version, which she states at the time she denied and corrected.

A claim by the police shooter that he was afraid doesn’t seem credible in the situation as facts unfold.

This does not add up, and it does not add up to “no charges.”  Freeman should take this up again in light of the exposed conflicts between evidence he relied on, and other evidence that was not posted on the County Attorney website above.

Why is Jamar Clark’s 2015 “Fleeing Case” information posted on that site?  That’s an inflammatory choice on Freeman’s part.  There is no legitimate reason to post it, it is not relevant to this decision.  The “Fleeing Case” can only be being brought in to bolster public opinion of Freeman’s support of the officers’ behavior — if he has a record, then he deserves to be shot.  NO, not acceptable.  And by the way, “fleeing” is not an aggressive act.  Hennepin County, remove that 2015 “Fleeing Case” information from the page.

Why aren’t the prior Complaints against the two officers, Dustin Schwarze and Mark Ringgenberg, also posted?

What will the civil suit look like on this?  I’d guess the result would be very different, and unfortunately, it looks like it will take a civil suit to get some justice for Jamar.


Attorney Jordan Kushner had some thoughts he put out on the Mpls. yak-yak list that I’m attaching below.  This is his area of law, he is an attorney fiercely dedicated to protecting our civil rights (and now is faced, perversely, with charges himself after being arrested at the U of M for filming the police).  I met Kushner decades ago when a number of us were defending the Crandon 29, where 29 protestors of the proposed mine in Crandon, Wisconsin, were arrested (my two clients were arrested for “blocking the highway” despite the video of the protest which showed clearly that my clients were on the sidewalk or next to the curb in the street, and there were police cars blocking the highway!!) and the trial was a circus, literally “three rings” with defendants from three locations and fact situations all in court at once.  Kushner was one of the defense attorneys for the RNC 8, and he was designated “The pro for the protesters” by the STrib.

Here’s what Kushner had to say about the Jamar Clark case and Freeman’s non-decision, most importantly about the role of a prosecutor, which Freeman did not fulfill:

I have not yet had a chance to carefully review the materials on the police killing of Jamar Clark to be able to pretend to render an informed opinion about whether the police should be prosecuted. I can say with certainty that Mike Freeman’s presentation of the evidence makes it clear that justice has NOT been done. Freeman did not play the role of a public prosecutor. He acted as a defense attorney for the two police officers, and a PR advocate for the police position in general. The normal role of a prosecutor would be to first consider the evidence supporting the victim, then examine the evidence supporting the suspects, and then consider whether all of the available evidence justified bringing charges. Freeman set forth all of the evidence that he had in favor of the police, assumed it to be true, and ignored or dismissed arguments – including many obvious ones, that challenged the police accounts. He also summarily dismissed all of the eyewitness accounts that disputed the police story on the grounds they were “contradictory.” It is common for eyewitness accounts to be contradictory to some degree, but that rarely stops prosecutions from going forward. In a typical case, a prosecutor would begin by considering eyewitness accounts supporting prosecution and looking for ways they could be corroborated. There is no indication that Freeman made any attempt to support they eyewitness accounts. Definitely, Freeman’s office regularly pursues prosecutions with eyewitness accounts that are as or more contradictory, and in weaker cases. But here Freeman did not play his typical role as prosecutor but assumed the role as advocate for the police.

Freeman does deserve some credit for taking direct responsibility and accountability for the decision not to prosecute, and abandoning the time honored practice of hiding behind a grand
jury. (I posted commentary on the grand jury sham on this list a few years ago after the last high profile Minneapolis police killing of an unarmed young African American man –
http://forums.e-democracy.org/…/topic/13KH7mtNjlyCwAkoUpqHiY ) Thanks to Freeman’s willingness to own and explain his decision, the public can be informed about where the County Attorney really stands. We learn clearly how it is inevitable that a prosecutor who works with police on a daily basis and is politically accountable to police interests probably more than any other group, will not seriously act as a prosecutor when it comes to reviewing possibly criminal actions of police officers. This leads to the next necessary demand that such cases not be reviewed and prosecuted by regular prosecutors, and particularly political and police hacks. Police killings need to be reviewed and pursued by independent “special” prosecutors who do not normally work with police or are politically tied to police interests. A special prosecutor needs to be appointed to review Jamar Clark’s case and future police killings.

Racist extremists charged today!

November 30th, 2015


Thanks to the STrib’s Libor Jany for posting the Statement of Probable Cause for Allen Scarsella.  The four are Scarsella, Joseph Backman, Nathan Gustavsson, and Daniel Macey.  Hennepin Co. Atty. Freeman’s press conference starts soon.

It looks like all four will be charged.  I’m very glad to see the County Attorney handling this quickly.  I believe they’re also looking at whether to charge this as a hate crime.  Given all the video and online threads, it’d be pretty hard to show it wasn’t a hate crime.

Probable Cause – Scarsella

From Reuters:

Allen Scarsella, 23, who prosecutors said in a complaint had admitted to shooting five protesters, was charged with one count of second-degree riot while armed and five counts of second-degree assault.

Joseph Backman, 27; Nathan Gustavsson, 21; and Daniel Macey, 26, were each charged with second-degree riot in the Nov. 23 late night shooting that left five demonstrators with wounds that were not life-threatening.


This is progress, a start.

From the press conference (close, but not necessarily verbatim):

“These are sick people…”

“These four have been in custody… we believe there may be another, and that’s why this is ongoing.”

“If you’re a racist, you’re a racist, and that’s just not acceptable.”

“For people to talk about about their fellow human beings in that manner is simply not acceptable.”

“First appearance is tomorrow, we’ve asked for half a million dollars for Scarsella, and for a quarter million for the others.”