Black Lives Matters protestors have been out in force in Minneapolis since Clark was shot. On Monday night, a group staged a demonstration on Interstate 94, bringing traffic to a halt. Police arrested 51 people before the highway reopened. Activists also rallied outside the police precinct close to where Clark was shot. They have demanded that police release video of the shooting. Authorities, meanwhile, initially wouldn’t even say if there was footage, either from dashboard cameras or from body cameras. (A September report by a city police-oversight commission recommended that body cameras be activated during all community contact.) Bystander footage from shortly after the shooting is available. On Tuesday, the BCA said it has obtained several videos but that “none … captured the event in its entirety.”
[Superintendent Drew] Evans said the videos came from the ambulance, a public housing building, cellphones of bystanders and a police mobile video station. There is no video from any police squad car or officer body cameras. The BCA is in the process of working with the nearby Elks Club lodge to examine its exterior video.
But Evans also said that no images will be released until after the investigation is complete—which could mean months.
Even if Clark was not handcuffed, there is a separate question of whether the use of deadly force was appropriate in the situation. Just as the death of Freddie Gray brought new scrutiny on a Baltimore Police Department with a long, troubled history with its citizens—and particularly citizens of color—the police in Minneapolis are about to come under new scrutiny.
“We’ve been saying for a long time that Minneapolis was one bullet away from Ferguson. Well, that bullet was fired last night,” Jason Sole, an associate professor of criminal justice at Metropolitan State University and a member of the local NAACP chapter, told the Star Tribune.
The newspaper calculated that between 2006 and 2012, the city paid out $14 million for alleged police misconduct. Despite that staggering sum, reviews very rarely found police had done anything wrong. Partly in response, Police Chief Janeé Harteau created a conduct-review office. (She also later convened a citizens’ advisory council.) In its first 439 cases, not a single one ended with an officer being disciplined. In 2014, 943 complaints were filed against the Minneapolis Police Department—or almost 1.2 complaints for each of the department’s 800 officers—though the number has been dropping.
One officer, Michael Griffin, who won a departmental medal of valor for responding to a 2012 shooting, has racked up 19 complaints since 2007. He cost the city more than $400,000 in two brutality cases. In May, Griffin was indicted on federal criminal charges including perjury and police brutality. The U.S. Attorney’s office said Griffin assaulted “at least four people while off-duty and after first identifying himself as a police officer.” He has pleaded not guilty.