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 charged 4 armed white supremacists who shot 5 @ #4thPrecinctShutDown w riot & assault. #WeChargeTerrorism. pic.twitter.com/gYKEv7Ht6x
— Black Lives MPLS (@BlackLivesMpls) November 30, 2015
@MayorHodges and @keithellison: "Want to shoot Black ppl for protesting? Go ahead, don't worry, we won't pursue justice" #WeChargeTerrorism
— Micky Black (@mickynoir) November 30, 2015
What I do know is: if the attack on @BlackLivesMpls wasn't "terrorism," I don't know what is. #WeChargeTerrorism
— Nicole Deane (@sassmasterdeane) December 1, 2015
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.
James Clark, father of Jamar Clark, tells reporters: "It's been a hard battle…we just want the truth." V @MPRnews pic.twitter.com/dLHVqAMuKE
— Doualy Xaykaothao (@DoualyX) March 17, 2016
'Justice for our son can be served only through an open trial, no grand jury,' #JamarClark parents pic.twitter.com/tCyvxBlI0O
— Bleep The Police (@BleepThePolice) March 17, 2016
.@WintanaMN w @mnnoc says she's inspired, hopeful after news that a grand jury will NOT be used in #JamarClark case. pic.twitter.com/9Eykkflg5C
— Doualy Xaykaothao (@DoualyX) March 16, 2016
We've spent every day since November 15th pushing to get justice for Jamar Clark. Today we moved one step closer. #NoGrandJury
— amo (@krennylavitz) March 16, 2016
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.