Was Jamar Clark handcuffed when shot by police? Feds investigate.

The fatal shooting of a young black man has sparked extensive protests in Minneapolis. Federal investigators have been called in to investigate the incident.

Richard Tsong-Taatarii/Star Tribune/AP
Pat Anderson attends a protest that aimed to demanded answers over the shooting of Jamar Clark near a police precinct in Minneapolis, Tuesday. State investigators looking into the fatal shooting of Clark by police during a scuffle have several partial videos of the incident but won't release them at this time, despite demands from protesters, an official said Tuesday.

The FBI has agreed to open a federal civil rights probe into the altercation between police and a black man, Jamar ONeal Clark, amid protests that Mr. Clark was handcuffed when shot.

The shot was not initially fatal and Clark was taken to a nearby hospital, but Clark died Monday from the injury, after being taken off life support.

The incident occurred early Sunday morning when police were called on a report of assault. Nekelia Sharp, a neighbor from across the street, told investigators that Clark and his girlfriend were in an argument, and an ambulance was called.

When two officers arrived at the scene, Clark was interfering with paramedics, according to police accounts. A struggle ensued and an officer fired at least once, hitting Clark in the head, officials said. The identities of the two officers have not been revealed.

The officers on the scene were not wearing body cameras at the time, nor was there a dash cam on their vehicle, but there was a mobile police camera stationed in the area. Investigators have also received partial footage from witnesses cell phones and public housing cameras.

State investigators are now trying to determine whether Clark was restrained when shot. Though police initially said he was not handcuffed, authorities have since confirmed there were handcuffs at the scene. Whether or not they were employed is still being investigated.

"We're still examining whether or not they were on Mr. Clark or whether or not they were just (fallen) at the scene. That's what we're trying to ascertain," state Bureau of Criminal Apprehension Superintendent Drew Evans said at a news conference Tuesday.

Department of Public Safety spokesman Bruce Gordon reiterated that none of the video footage showed the entire encounter and as such will not be released until it can be verified. He also said officials will not discuss specifics to protect witness statements.

The incident is the latest in a series of high-profile police shootings and violent arrests involving white officers and black suspects across the United States.

Sunday's shooting has sparked prolonged protests, as hundreds, including NAACP and Black Lives Matter members, blocked traffic on a interstate highway Monday night and dozens set up tents outside the 4th police precinct near the scene of the shooting, demanding the release of video footage and the officers’ identities. At least two police vehicles were also damaged in the protests and 43 people have been arrested.

Minnesota has had problems with police-community relations in the past. In a similar incident in 2013, in which police shot a black man accused of burglary sparked outrage and a civil lawsuit. The officers involved were not indicted. In 2014, a prominent civil rights activist stirred controversy when he claimed he was a victim of brutality. Police said he instigated aggression.

According to a report prepared for the State of Minnesota Council on Black Minnesotans, “Of all the high level issues of concerns within Minnesota’s Black populations, including issues related to jobs, health, and education, the problems associated with the criminal justice system are viewed by people of African descent as the most intractable and difficult to change.” Data released by the Council on Crime and Justice in 2012 revealed that while 85 percent of the Minnesota population was white, and 5.2 percent were black. However, blacks make up 37 percent of the Minnesota prison population.

“On any given day in Minnesota, a black person is more than 20 times more likely to be stopped for a traffic offense than a white person,” the Council on Crime and Justice reported. The average racial disparity of arrest rates between African Americans and Caucasians is 10:1.

This report contains material from the Associated Press.

You've read  of  free articles. Subscribe to continue.

Dear Reader,

About a year ago, I happened upon this statement about the Monitor in the Harvard Business Review – under the charming heading of “do things that don’t interest you”:

“Many things that end up” being meaningful, writes social scientist Joseph Grenny, “have come from conference workshops, articles, or online videos that began as a chore and ended with an insight. My work in Kenya, for example, was heavily influenced by a Christian Science Monitor article I had forced myself to read 10 years earlier. Sometimes, we call things ‘boring’ simply because they lie outside the box we are currently in.”

If you were to come up with a punchline to a joke about the Monitor, that would probably be it. We’re seen as being global, fair, insightful, and perhaps a bit too earnest. We’re the bran muffin of journalism.

But you know what? We change lives. And I’m going to argue that we change lives precisely because we force open that too-small box that most human beings think they live in.

The Monitor is a peculiar little publication that’s hard for the world to figure out. We’re run by a church, but we’re not only for church members and we’re not about converting people. We’re known as being fair even as the world becomes as polarized as at any time since the newspaper’s founding in 1908.

We have a mission beyond circulation, we want to bridge divides. We’re about kicking down the door of thought everywhere and saying, “You are bigger and more capable than you realize. And we can prove it.”

If you’re looking for bran muffin journalism, you can subscribe to the Monitor for $15. You’ll get the Monitor Weekly magazine, the Monitor Daily email, and unlimited access to CSMonitor.com.