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No justice from MPD investigation

No justice from MPD investigation

MPD tries to close the book on the Jamar Clark killing, but their misleading Internal Affairs report cannot hide policy violations

By Rachel Wannarka and Jason Sole (with editing assistance from Brendan Miller)

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Image of Chief Harteau and Mayor Hodges from press conference October 21, 2016

On Friday, Minneapolis police Chief Janeé Harteau (alongside Minneapolis Mayor Betsy Hodges) announced the results of the MPD Internal Affairs investigation into the actions of officers Schwarze and Ringgenberg in the case of Jamar Clark, an unarmed black man shot in the head on November 2015. It is perhaps not surprising that the police cleared themselves of any wrongdoing – though we had hoped for progress, this was business as usual. But it is jarring that their Internal Affairs overview and statements by Chief Harteau include misleading claims about the events surrounding the unnecessary and tragic police killing of Jamar Clark.

We have previously documented the numerous policy violations in this case. Along with the family and community, we were disappointed to hear Chief Harteau state “After looking at all the evidence and all the verifiable facts in this case, I can say with absolute certainty that I fully support the actions of Officers Ringgenberg and Schwarze the morning of November 15th. We did not find any violation of MPD policy.”

The released MPD Internal Affairs overview fails to even address many of the violations previously noted, including false statements made by both Schwarze and Ringgenberg to the BCA. Contrary to Chief Harteau’s characterization, the overview does describe actions constituting several indisputable policy violations. Rather than calling the violations what they are, the overview manufactures justifications.

For example, quoting from MPD policy 4-218: “The driver shall wear the wireless microphone, verify that it is turned on and shall be responsible for ensuring that it is working properly throughout the shift.” Schwarze’s policy violation as the driver in not wearing the microphone is excused: “The common practice at the time was to store the wireless microphones in the squad.” As another example, quoting from MPD policy 7-810.03: “The Incident Commander at the scene shall promptly assign an Escort to stay with each Involved Officer… Escorts shall keep the Involved Officers separate from other Involved and Witness Officers.” But Schwarze and Ringgenberg were transported back to the precinct in the same vehicle; this is excused as “reasonable under the circumstances… A growing group of people were gathering near the scene… Additional escort officers or squad cars for separate transport were not available at the scene.” Addressing this policy violation by blaming the crowd that was concerned about Clark being shot is obscene. It is simply false that other squad cars were not on scene; the transporting squad 425 arrived at 00:51:24 after at least 411 and 420 were already there.

Where the Internal Affairs overview attempts to argue that policy was not violated, for example with Schwarze’s failure to activate the vehicle emergency lights and consequently the dashcam, it makes misleading claims and/or disregards published evidence. Here is what Schwarze told the BCA: “When we got in the vehicle we looked at the computer screen that’s in our car and there was call notes in the call that said request police respond code 3. Which means, it’s urgent.” But the overview presents the call as routine in an attempt to justify this violation; acknowledging that “A ‘code 3’ response is a request for emergency services where officers would activate lights and siren”, it is claimed “‘Assist EMS’ is a routine dispatch and is not treated as an incident where officers typically respond with lights and siren.” No mention is made of Schwarze’s own prior testimony to the BCA that they treated the call as code 3. Schwarze told the BCA that they didn’t activate the emergency lights because “there was no stop signs or red lights or anything this was a very quick within three blocks” but there is a stop sign at Morgan and traffic signal lights at Logan along the route. The overview carefully skips over Schwarze’s false statement about the stop sign: “The officers indicated there were no red lights or intersections to clear and they, therefore, did not activate their lights or sirens.”

Incredibly, the Internal Affairs overview relies exclusively on Ringgenberg’s self-interested testimony to the BCA to argue that his takedown was not a prohibited choke hold: “Officer Ringgenberg did not use a ‘choke hold’ technique. Officer Ringgenberg stated that he grabbed Mr. Clark around the upper chest to bring him to the ground. (Ringgenberg statement BCA).” But witnesses characterized Ringgenberg’s takedown as a choke hold and we view the ambulance video as supporting the witness accounts rather than that of the involved officer.

Chief Harteau echoed Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman in claiming “DNA evidence does show Clark grabbed Officer Ringgenberg’s holster and gun” but this has been extensively debunked; for example, expert Patrick Sullivan told MPR that DNA is “not a truth serum… I might shake your hand and touch [my] gun and you never touched the gun but your DNA might end up on the gun.” It is easy to conceive of how Clark’s DNA could have been indirectly transferred by Ringgenberg when he grabbed Clark’s hands, rolled around on top of him, then drew his gun after Clark was shot. (Indirect transfer explains how Ringgenberg’s own shirt had Rayann Hayes’ blood on it, even though he never touched her because she was already in the ambulance.) There were no fingerprints from Clark on Ringgenberg’s gun.

Both the overview and Chief Harteau describe video as showing Ringgenberg was “pulled back” down or toward Clark, but (just like Freeman when he declined charges) there is no acknowledgment that the portion of video where Ringgenberg’s body enters the frame visibly twisting back and forth on top of Clark covers the seconds immediately after Clark had already been shot by Schwarze at 00:50:02.

There is no attempt to explain why not a single witness, including the EMTs, heard any of the dialogue alleged by the officers including Ringgenberg’s purported screams of “he’s got my gun” or why surveillance video shows bystanders strongly reacting to the shot but not particularly to Ringgenberg’s purported screams.

There are also no answers provided to open questions including why the officers took so long to reach 1611 Plymouth after acknowledging the initial call, whether the officers have a history of violence that repeated with Jamar Clark (both Schwarze and Ringgenberg have been accused of brutality in ways that oddly echo some aspects of the Clark incident), why evidence pictures of Schwarze after the incident showed him in his shirt rather than the jacket he was wearing and why testing after the BCA requested the uniforms (from Schwarze’s attorney) showed no blood at all on Schwarze’s jacket or pants, whether Schwarze and Ringgenberg reviewed video evidence from the ambulance prior to providing their statements to the BCA, why their statements were not obtained within the specified 48 hour interval after the incident, and why witnesses at the scene were essentially intimidated and coerced into leaving (including through the apparently unauthorized use of a chemical agent) rather than asked for immediate statements about the incident.

History teaches us not to expect justice when police are tasked with investigating themselves. Though Ringgenberg and Schwarze arguably should never have been hired, and though their actions that night should easily have disqualified them from their positions with MPD, they are now free to return to the same streets on which they killed Jamar Clark one year ago.

Black Lives, Pokemon, and Double Standards from St. Paul PD

Black Lives, Pokemon, and Double Standards from St. Paul PD

By Rachel Wannarka and Jason Sole

In recent weeks, Rice Park in St. Paul has become a popular spot for Pokémon Go players to congregate. Twitter comments include, from August 2 at 10:12pm: “Crowd of about 100-200 people out at St. Paul’s Rice Park playing Pokémon Go at 10:00 on a Tuesday night” with a video showing exactly that, and from August 7: “People playing Pokémon Go last night in Rice Park, St. Paul MN” accompanied by a video showing about 150 mostly white people running, talking loudly, and laughing in the dark. A Pokémon event for Rice Park on August 4 was officially scheduled to run 7pm to 11pm. Tony Haom, 36, of St. Paul writes: “I took the kids Wednesday night around 10pm and there were probably 200+ people there at Rice Park. If I had to guess, it’s a minimum 50 people at all times and that excludes people in their cars or hanging out on the opposite side of the streets. There seems to be more people after 10pm than in the daytime in my opinion.” Multiple people have noted that some Pokémon players bring blankets, coolers, folding chairs, etc, including at night as they stay. Rice Park officially closes at 9:30pm but police have obviously elected not to enforce this; instead, they have taken a lighthearted approach, as a tweet from 11:51pm July 30 documents: “St. Paul PD just drove by Rice Park blasting the Pokemon theme song.” We admit to not understanding the appeal of Pokémon Go ourselves but are happy to see people enjoying themselves in the park.

Police are not always so relaxed about park closing times. Friday night, a new black youth group called Awareness and Resistance 14 (AR14), which includes a large percentage of LGBTQ identifying individuals, was showing a documentary in Carty Park. According to organizer Chauntyl Allen of St. Paul, who advises AR14, the group was developed by the youth themselves for education, healing, and self care following the trauma many experienced at the hands of police during the occupation at the Governor’s mansion. Allen says that the education component of AR14 is essential: “This type of information is not available in school. The youth haven’t been taught history that looks like them.” On Friday, “The youth were sitting in a public park trying to get information from people who care.”

At the documentary showing, St. Paul police showed up in riot gear immediately after the official park closing time and six people were arrested with two actually booked into the Ramsey County Correctional Facility on charges of trespassing. The official police statement made no mention of either the selective enforcement or of the aggressive tactics, glossing over the disparate treatment.

Earlier this year, the Pioneer Press put out a comprehensive report on the racial gaps in Minnesota, which are among the worst in the nation. They highlighted that “Racial prejudice also continues to be an important factor” in these gaps, citing a Metropolitan Council study that controlled for age, education, and language skills. The criminal justice system is laced through with bias: “While blacks make up just 5 percent of Minnesota’s population, they make up 36 percent of the prison population.” A recent ACLU study of Minneapolis found “a startling disparity in the way police enforce low-level offenses” with black and Native American citizens disproportionately targeted. Meanwhile over the last seven years St. Paul police have killed more suspects than any other department in Minnesota – again, disproportionately people of color. These troubling gaps are one reason why activists sometimes refer to Minnesota as Jim Crow North.

Black youth in the Twin Cities know the statistics and they also know their lived experiences. Community outreach events with police and youth can be positive, but it is how police treat youth whom they encounter on the street, at the mall, or in a park that is remembered. Far too often those encounters are needlessly antagonistic, even traumatizing, for black youth. When black youth are treated differently than are white people in Minnesota, the police must be receptive to complaints and need to actually implement corrective changes. Youth and organizers who were at Carty Park Friday night provide a firsthand view of discriminatory, routine mistreatment by police.

Yhanté Williams, 18, describes the evening. “This black and LGBTQ youth group started AR14, they decided to hold an educational event about Rondo Days and the Black Power movement. It wasn’t any type of protest besides the march to the park to claim it as a new occupation space. No alcohol, drugs, partying, everyone was sitting there watching a movie. There were kids at the park, everyone was learning and having fun together. It was kind of a chill out after what had happened at the mansion. Everyone was tired after what had happened.”

When the police arrived, they didn’t simply send one officer to say that it was past closing time (which, again, would already be a selective enforcement), but instead: “the police pulled up in like 8 different big black vans and they got really close really fast. They were taking their batons saying ‘move back, move back’ we said ‘we’re not going anywhere we’re sitting in the park. Is this how you approach other people sitting in the park?’ I went back to grab the rest of our blankets and stuff. Next thing I know they’re surrounding us telling us to leave, but they wouldn’t let us leave. A protester tried to leave the circle and they pushed her back in with their batons.” Williams was arrested and requested a female officer to handle the check for weapons, but a “male officer lifted up my skirt, I looked at him and he put his hands up in the air like he didn’t do anything. He was just there holding my hand up on the car and I felt my skirt go up. I was like, “what are you doing?” He was like ma’am get in the car.”

Frustratingly, “They wouldn’t tell me why i was arrested until way after, no one would tell me why I was being held. You asked why and they literally looked in my face and said ‘we don’t know, you have to wait.’” Williams was held until 5am and was apparently detained because she had been previously arrested in front of the mansion – where police also surrounded large groups of protesters and refused to let anyone leave. The legality of all these arrests in public spaces seems to us to be rather dubious, which is perhaps why police don’t employ these tactics against a neighborhood that shuts off their street for a spontaneous block party, or Pokémon Go players in a park after closing.

Activist Michaela Nichole Day filmed the police raid on the movie watchers. She gave us her perspective: “Under Chief Axtell’s command, Mayor Coleman and Governor Dayton’s police force showed up in riot gear about 50 deep for around 30 people watching an educational movie in the park that was organized by youth with the support of the Rondo neighbors and community. St. Paul police shouted for people to leave whilst simultaneously surrounding people so they couldn’t leave. They even pushed people from the sidewalk onto the park grass while telling them to leave the park. They made a point to target youth (and their supporters) who organized educational events. Police needlessly and violently tackled Black females to the ground but were less violent with “white” people they arrested without tackling them. This is another example of Jim Crow Minnesota as usual. The irony is not lost on us that there was a public relations photo op earlier in the day with St. Paul police officers playing basketball with youth on the West Side. They will take a photo op with Black and Brown youth any chance they get, and turn around treat them like three-fifths of a person.”

Chauntyl Allen wrote her thoughts about the incident. “It’s very disappointing that young people have organized hard to build within the intergenerational gaps that formed through systematic design to oppress. These students took the initiative to set up classroom space to learn about things that are eliminated from standard education. We were sitting on the grass watching a documentary to educate the youth in this movement when St. Paul police moved in and surrounded us with fully loaded semi-automatic weapons and began to violently arrest people. There were specific organizers targeted. The organizers that spoke at the rally, and earlier on the news, were first to be surrounded and detained. I’m really starting to be concerned for my safety and other organizers attempting to inject truth, love, and humanity back into the system. The police brought trash trucks and disposed of our entire classroom. Everyone claims they want youth involvement but when it shows up they shut it down. They thought that they could break our spirits and we wouldn’t continue this powerful work, but the positive response from the community tells us we need to do it! They come at us with guns but it won’t work because our thoughts are bulletproof.”

We write here as parents of young children who are inspired and impressed by the passion, insight, and effectiveness of youth who are working for change. These are the future leaders of our communities: future business owners, scientists, politicians, writers, teachers, cops, firefighters, artists, reporters, or whatever else they aspire to be. These youth are actively creating a better Twin Cities for our own children, and their friends, and the next generation. How can we best support these efforts to address the injustices that continue to plague our communities of color? Accountability for wildly disparate treatment is a necessary first step. Antagonistic and unnecessary arrests at a park movie event can’t be the answer.

It is not justice when black youth in a park for education are met with riot gear and forceful arrests, while hundreds of people playing Pokemon Go at all hours in a park are met with support and songs. There needs to be justice for Philando and also for the youth who are spearheading efforts to ensure fairness, justice and equality.

Policy violations in the Jamar Clark case

Policy violations in the Jamar Clark case

by Rachel Wannarka and Jason Sole, Minneapolis NAACP members

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Peaceful protest camp outside the 4th Precinct hours before it was dismantled by MPD. Pressure from the occupation helped obtain the release of key evidence analyzed here.

(Photo by Brendan Miller, who also helped review and edit)

 

“As a Minnesota Law Enforcement Officer, my fundamental duty is to serve mankind; to safeguard lives and property; to protect the innocent against deception, the weak against oppression or intimidation, and the peaceful against violence or disorder; and to respect the Constitutional rights of all to liberty, equality and justice… I will enforce the law courteously and appropriately without fear of favor, malice or ill will, never employing unnecessary force or violence.”    

The Minnesota Law Enforcement Code of Ethics

 

Jamar Clark was unarmed the night he was shot in the head just 61 seconds after encountering Minneapolis police officers Dustin Schwarze and Mark Ringgenberg. The subsequent BCA investigation was one-sided and incomplete but still provided sufficient evidence for criminal charges, which were nonetheless predictably declined by Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman and US Attorney Andy Luger. We have previously detailed some of the lies and misrepresentations that Freeman put forward to explain his failure to charge the officers, many of which were parroted by Luger. The standards of evidence employed to excuse officer shootings are not those used in other cases. We have also shown how the officer statements provide evidence of bias and scripting. At the same time eyewitnesses were disregarded, silencing black voices. The failure to pursue charges against Officer Schwarze and Officer Ringgenberg continues a troubling pattern in Minnesota: since 2000, at least 143 killings by police have resulted in zero officers facing criminal charges.

Here, we show that officers Schwarze and Ringgenberg and their MPD colleagues committed numerous policy violations that are factually established by their own accounts of the incident as well as by video evidence and independent testimony from multiple eyewitnesses. Schwarze and Ringgenberg repeatedly failed to record their encounter with Clark, they used excessive and prohibited force, and they made false statements about key aspects of the incident.

Other MPD officers violated policies in transporting Schwarze and Ringgenberg together from the scene, in deploying chemical agents against the crowd, and in mishandling civilian witnesses. We also highlight several important questions that were not addressed by the BCA, Freeman, or Luger, but that can and must be answered to provide a complete picture of the night of November 15, 2015.

The community has stood together for #Justice4Jamar and made it clear that business as usual is over. Despite MPD’s woeful track record at holding its officers accountable for misconduct, we expect that the outcome of their internal investigation will be the employment termination of Schwarze and Ringgenberg, and we call for the criminal case to be re-opened and properly investigated.

 

I. Schwarze and Ringgenberg repeatedly failed to record the incident

Schwarze and Ringgenberg did not respond promptly to the emergency call, did not activate their squad emergency lights as required when responding to a code 3 call (which triggers video and audio recording), did not wear or activate body microphones as required throughout their shift, did not manually activate recording as required when talking with someone involved in a suspected domestic abuse incident, and did not activate recording after the shooting, which could have recovered footage of the event itself with the 20 second buffer pre-event recording and would have shown the scene up close in the aftermath.

Their actions violated MPD policies 5-106, 7-403, and 4-218, detailed below.

This cascade of policy violations would be of grave concern in isolation, but in the context of a fatal shooting of an unarmed civilian it should be immediately disqualifying for continued employment with MPD. It should have also prompted particular scrutiny of their actions that night – scrutiny that seems not to have been applied by the BCA, by Freeman, or by Luger.

 

II. Schwarze and Ringgenberg used excessive and prohibited force

Ringgenberg used a “chokehold” neck restraint in his takedown of Clark that is prohibited by MPD under those circumstances. Schwarze shot Clark in the head when this use of deadly force was not necessary to protect himself, Ringgenberg, or any others from apparent death or great bodily harm. The findings of Freeman and Luger excusing the shooting were only reached by disregarding eyewitness testimony, credulously accepting the narratives provided by the involved officers, and misrepresenting or misinterpreting forensic evidence. Both Schwarze and Ringgenberg have been accused in previous lawsuits of excessive force or brutality.

Their actions violated MPD policies 5-104, 5-311, 5-304, and 5-305, detailed below.

 

III. Schwarze and Ringgenberg made false statements about key details

In attempting to justify the decision not to turn on emergency lights and the recording that goes with them, Schwarze falsely described the route from the 4th Precinct parking lot to 1611 Plymouth as lacking any stop signs or (potential) red lights. Both officers falsely claimed that Ringgenberg drew his gun only after Clark refused commands to remove his hands from his pockets. Ringgenberg falsely claimed he grabbed the “upper chest area” when taking Clark to the ground. Both officers claimed that Ringgenberg screamed or yelled “he’s got my gun” but surveillance video of passers-by reactions and testimony from EMTs on scene and eyewitnesses just across the street are inconsistent with this narrative. These false statements from Schwarze and Ringgenberg would, if accurate, help to justify their actions.

Their actions violated MPD policies 5-101 and 5-107, detailed below.

 

IV. Other violations and investigative problems

There were several other significant violations of MPD policies or of standard investigative procedures.

  • At the scene, witnesses were harassed and essentially forced away, rather than separated and processed.
  • A chemical agent was used against the crowd, apparently without prior supervisor authorization.
  • Officers Schwarze and Ringgenberg were transported in the same squad car back to the 4th Precinct in violation of critical incident policy. They were not assigned separate escorts and their escort was not of Sgt rank.
  • The voluntary statements of Schwarze and Ringgenberg were not obtained within 48 hours of the incident.
  • In conducting interviews, BCA investigators used different interrogation techniques on witnesses versus on the involved officers; specifically, their questions appeared designed to discredit witnesses, while propping up the officers.
  • The uniforms of Schwarze and Ringgenberg were not properly processed and secured prior to laboratory testing.
  • Freeman stated that Ringgenberg’s belt keepers had become unsnapped whereas Ringgenberg told the BCA that he could not remember if they came loose or not.
  • Freeman stated that the presence of Clark’s DNA on the handle of Ringgenberg’s gun strongly supported that Clark grabbed Ringgenberg’s gun but this was just as likely an indirect transfer, similar to how Rayann Hayes’ DNA ended up on Ringgenberg’s shirt even though she was already inside the ambulance when he arrived on scene.

These actions violated MPD policies including 5-312, 5-313, and 7-810, and taken as a whole they compromised and biased the investigation. Many of these violations acted to support the narrative provided by Schwarze and Ringgenberg or made it harder to assess their potential misconduct and potential criminal culpability.

 

V. Unanswered questions

Any proper investigation would have already addressed this list of questions, but the BCA, Freeman, and Luger have not. Some of these questions will have mundane or irrelevant answers, some will help explain the events around Clark’s death, but all have factual answers that can and must be provided. We call on the media to join the community in demanding full accountability for the violations detailed in points I-IV above, and to press for answers to these unanswered questions:

  1. Are there any possible patterns in violent incidents in which Schwarze has been involved? For example, Schwarze alleged that Nathaniel Hanson tried to grab the Taser out of his hand in an incident 12/11/2011 that resulted in a brutality lawsuit. Did any officers allege an attempt was made to grab a gun in an incident 3/24/2015 that was the focus of an internal affairs investigation that included Schwarze?
  1. What exactly were Schwarze and Ringgenberg doing between 00:40, when they acknowledged the code 3 call as it came in, and 00:48, when they drove down Plymouth past Knox to James? What does GPS data of their vehicle indicate? For context, squads took under one minute to arrive in response to the shots fired call.
  1. Which officers were in the squad car that immediately preceded that driven by Schwarze and Ringgenberg down Plymouth (see in particular the Hayes front video 00:48:33, also the pole cam video 00:48:28), and where did they go afterward?
  1. Ringgenberg touched Clark with his gloved hands, he rolled around on top of Clark including for more than 10 seconds after Schwarze had already shot Clark, and he then touched his belt in various spots and his gun with both hands. Did the BCA conduct tests to assess the likelihood of indirect DNA transfer under these circumstances, and if so with what results, and if not why not and will they now?
  1. While fully respecting that the identity of the officer driving squad 111 is redacted in the BCA report and released videos, this officer seems to have played a key role in escorting the ambulance containing Clark to the hospital. Did the officer interact with any witness EMTs or view ambulance video while there? Did the officer have any interaction with Schwarze or Ringgenberg prior to their BCA interviews?
  1. Did Schwarze and Ringgenberg view ambulance video footage prior to their interview with the BCA? If yes, why were they provided this considering it is not MPD MVR footage? If not, what officers did view it and did they speak with anyone?
  1. Why didn’t the BCA secure the uniforms rather than requesting them a month later from Schwarze’s attorney? Why was there no blood on Schwarze’s jacket or pants? When the BCA received his uniform, why was his shirt not included? Was there dirt and grass still present on the pants knees? Why were pictures of Schwarze taken after the incident of him in his shirt rather than the jacket he was wearing?

 


 

I. Schwarze and Ringgenberg repeatedly failed to record the incident

 

a) Schwarze and Ringgenberg did not respond promptly to the emergency call.

00:40:19 dispatch tells squad 424 to assist EMS at 1611 Plymouth; they copy

00:40:48 dispatch updates that party related to earlier fight is near ambulance

00:41:03 activity log has squad 424 as en route (BCA p521)

00:48:35 or so squad 424 arrives and parks (BCA p521, Hayes rear video)

00:48:57 Schwarze and Ringgenberg talk with Trullinger (Hayes rear video)

00:50:02 ShotSpotter records the noise of Schwarze shooting Clark (BCA p122-3)

00:50:07 squad 424 (Schwarze) reports shots fired

 

MPD policy 5-106 ON-DUTY CODE OF CONDUCT

Officers shall respond without delay to calls for police service unless otherwise directed by proper authority. Emergency calls for service shall take precedence. However, all dispatched calls shall be answered as soon as possible consistent with departmental procedures. If officers need to temporarily go out-of-service on a detail or otherwise be unavailable for calls, they shall notify their immediate supervisor and request permission for such details. (03/25/08)

 

b) They did not activate their squad emergency lights as required when responding to a code 3 call (which triggers video and audio recording)

Schwarze BCA interview p223: “When we got in the vehicle we looked at the computer screen that’s in our car and there was call notes in the call that said request police respond code 3. Which means, it’s urgent.”

Schwarze BCA interview p226: Question: “When you were en route to this call did ah was that squad camera activated?” Schwarze: “No.” Question: “Why is that?” Schwarze: “In order to activate the squad camera you have to turn your [emergency] lights on all the way and we didn’t turn our lights on to get to this call.”

 

MPD policy 7-403 VEHICLES – EMERGENCY RESPONSE (10/12/01)

Only police vehicles with lights and sirens are authorized for emergency response. All MPD officers shall use red lights and sirens in a continuous manner for any emergency driving. Officers responding to a Code 3 emergency shall exercise caution and due consideration for the safety of the public.

 

MPD policy 4-218 MOBILE AND VIDEO RECORDING (MVR) POLICY (05/25/04) (9/19/08) (08/28/09) (08/01/11)

 

Trigger Event: An event that causes the MVR system to begin a video and audio recording. Trigger events include the activation of emergency lights or vehicle collision sensor.

 

c) They did not wear or activate body microphones as required throughout shift

Schwarze BCA interview p227: Question: “So you have a mic that goes with that it’s on your person?” Schwarze: “Correct. The, there is a portable microphone that picks up just audio. And that’s synched to the camera. My understanding is that that’s only to be worn if you know that the camera is running as well. They go hand in hand with another.” Question: “So they’re not permanently attached to you, you have to grab it out of a dock or something?” Schwarze: “Correct. We’re issued mics at the beginning of each shift and then they just stay in the vehicle unless we are gonna get out knowing that the, the whole system has been activated.”

 

MPD policy 4-218 MOBILE AND VIDEO RECORDING (MVR) POLICY (05/25/04) (9/19/08) (08/28/09) (08/01/11)

4. The driver shall wear the wireless microphone, verify that it is turned on and shall be responsible for ensuring that it is working properly throughout the shift. (07/11/07) (08/01/11)

5. Record Mode can be activated in the following ways: (08/01/11)

6. Automatically, when a trigger event occurs; (08/01/11)

7. Manually, by an officer via the wireless microphone, LCD monitor console, or digital video recorder (DVR) box in the vehicle’s trunk. (08/01/11)

Note that wearing the mic as per policy permits the officer to activate the entire MVR system from outside the vehicle using the mic.

 

d) They did not manually activate recording as required when talking with someone involved in a suspected domestic abuse incident

The relationship between Clark and Hayes was not as portrayed by media and Freeman, but it is reasonable to approach a reported assault between a woman and a man as a potential domestic abuse incident. Recording can be turned on even with emergency lights off simply by flipping a switch, and it is required for domestics.

MPD policy 4-218 MOBILE AND VIDEO RECORDING (MVR) POLICY (05/25/04) (9/19/08) (08/28/09) (08/01/11)

6. MVR equipment shall be in Record Mode: (08/01/11)

For every stop/contact where a motor vehicle is involved and shall record the stop/contact in its entirety. (04/11/07) (08/01/11)

For domestic abuse incident interviews conducted inside or in close proximity to an MVR equipped vehicle. (08/01/11)

Any time a person is transported in a squad, regardless of the destination. This does not apply when an authorized ride-along is the only other person in the squad. When practical, officers shall begin recording when the person is placed in the squad, regardless if transportation begins immediately following activation. (06/09/15)

 

e) They did not activate recording after the shooting, which could have recovered footage of the event itself with the 20 second buffer pre-event recording and would have shown the scene up close in the aftermath.

MPD policy 4-218 MOBILE AND VIDEO RECORDING (MVR) POLICY (05/25/04) (9/19/08) (08/28/09) (08/01/11)

Pre-Event Recording: Video stored by the MVR system prior to activation. This is a configurable feature for the digital MVR system and is preset to record video prior to activation. The pre-event recording is included as part of the incident and is viewable during playback.

All of the squad videos posted to the Hennepin County Attorney page on Clark, including those for which the car starts in the 4th Precinct lot, have video footage that begins about 20 seconds prior to the emergency lights being turned on. Even without this pre-event footage the MVR data from their squad would have extremely relevant. But Schwarze and Ringgenberg simply stood over or near Clark until more officers arrived and took them back to the 4th Precinct.

 

II. Schwarze and Ringgenberg used excessive and prohibited force 

The seemingly confrontational manner in which the officers approached and interacted with Clark was not professional and did not consider de-escalation.

MPD policy 5-104.01 PROFESSIONAL POLICING (12/24/01) (12/01/08)

Officers shall use the following practices when contacting any citizen, regardless of the reason for the contact: (07/24/15)

Be courteous, respectful, polite and professional.

Introduce or identify themselves to the citizen and explain the reason for the contact as soon as practical, unless providing this information will compromise the safety of officers or other persons.

 

MPD policy 5-304 THREATENING THE USE OF FORCE AND DE-ESCALATION (10/16/02) (06/01/12)

As an alternative and/or the precursor to the actual use of force, sworn MPD employees may verbally announce their intent to use force. Sworn employees may display an authorized weapon as a threat of force. The threatened use of force shall only occur in situations that a sworn employee reasonably believes may result in the authorized use of force. This policy shall not be construed to authorize unnecessarily harsh language. (08/17/07)

Sworn employees are encouraged to consider de-escalation/non-force options in situations when time and safety permits. (06/01/12)

 

 a) Ringgenberg used a “chokehold” neck restraint in his takedown of Clark that is prohibited by MPD under those circumstances.

BCA p162, witness LB: “officer on the right went in more and grabbed ‘em in a choke hold […] stepped back in and grabbed ‘em around the neck […] when he choke slammed him […] the officer that got choke slammed him dropped down with him.”

 

BCA p186, witness JC: “officer came behind him put him a choke hold slammed him down […] I just know he grabbed him and choked him up […] that’s when the police grabbed and choked him up.”

 

ringgenberg_takedown_all

 

In the Hayes rear video, Ringgenberg’s head, body, and arm can be seen as he takes down Jamar Clark at 00:49:28. The design on Clark’s shirt shows the position of his upper chest. Ringgenberg’s arm clearly grabs around Clark at a higher location, i.e. around his neck. Ringgenberg was sued for brutality in a case involving an alleged chokehold in San Diego, although the suit was dropped when the accuser ran out of funds. If Ringgenberg was applying a conscious neck restraint, that technique is prohibited by MPD against passively resisting subjects who refuse to follow orders.

MPD policy 5-311 USE OF NECK RESTRAINTS AND CHOKE HOLDS (10/16/02) (08/17/07) (10/01/10) (04/16/12)

DEFINITIONS I.

Choke Hold: Deadly force option. Defined as applying direct pressure on a person’s trachea or airway (front of the neck), blocking or obstructing the airway (04/16/12)

Neck Restraint: Non-deadly force option. Defined as compressing one or both sides of a person’s neck with an arm or leg, without applying direct pressure to the trachea or airway (front of the neck). Only sworn employees who have received training from the MPD Training Unit are authorized to use neck restraints. The MPD authorizes two types of neck restraints: Conscious Neck Restraint and Unconscious Neck Restraint. (04/16/12)

Conscious Neck Restraint: The subject is placed in a neck restraint with intent to control, and not to render the subject unconscious, by only applying light to moderate pressure. (04/16/12)

Unconscious Neck Restraint: The subject is placed in a neck restraint with the intention of rendering the person unconscious by applying adequate pressure. (04/16/12)

PROCEDURES/REGULATIONS II.

The Conscious Neck Restraint may be used against a subject who is actively resisting. (04/16/12)

The Unconscious Neck Restraint shall only be applied in the following circumstances: (04/16/12)

On a subject who is exhibiting active aggression, or;

For life saving purposes, or;

On a subject who is exhibiting active resistance in order to gain control of the subject; and if lesser attempts at control have been or would likely be ineffective.

Neck restraints shall not be used against subjects who are passively resisting as defined by policy. (04/16/12)

 

b) Schwarze shot Clark in the head when this use of deadly force was not necessary to protect himself, Ringgenberg, or any others from apparent death or great bodily harm.

Schwarze and Ringgenberg claimed to be in fear for their lives because, they say, Clark was grabbing Ringgenberg’s gun. However, in point III(d) we show that the narrative of Ringgenberg screaming “he’s got my gun!” does not agree with video or eyewitness testimony. This alone undercuts the claim that they feared for their lives.

MPD policy 5-305 AUTHORIZED USE OF DEADLY FORCE (08/17/07)

Minn. Stat. §609.066 sub. 2 – “The use of deadly force by a peace officer in the line of duty is justified only when necessary:

  • To protect the peace officer or another from apparent death or great bodily harm;
  • To effect the arrest or capture, or prevent the escape, of a person whom the peace officer knows or has reasonable grounds to believe has committed or attempted to commit a felony involving the use or threatened use of deadly force, or;
  • To effect the arrest or capture, or prevent the escape, of a person who the officer knows or has reasonable grounds to believe has committed or attempted to commit a felony if the officer reasonably believes that the person will cause death or great bodily harm if the person’s apprehension is delayed.

In addition to Minn. Stat. §609.066, MPD policies shall utilize the United States Supreme Court decision in Tennessee vs Garner as a guideline for the use of deadly force.

In addition, the forensic evidence casts serious doubt on the police claim that Clark grabbed Ringgenberg’s gun. There were no fingerprints or palm prints from Clark found on Ringgenberg’s gun, as would be expected if Clark’s hand had indeed “got my whole grip” and “he was pulling on it” as Ringgenberg alleged. A probable match to Clark’s DNA was found on the grip only, but Clark’s DNA was not present on the back top and hammer, the back sides of the slide, the magazine, slide, and safety release, the flashlight, the bottom of the magazine, or the trigger (BCA p739). The DNA on the grip could be due to indirect transfer, for example from Ringgenberg touching Clark and then touching his gun, as the videos confirm did indeed occur. Quoting expert Patrick Sullivan, “DNA is, as they say, the gold standard in forensics. But it’s not a truth serum. It provides you information that you can use to help you make a decision […] I might shake your hand and touch your gun and you never touched the gun but your DNA might end up on the gun.”

Relevant to evaluating the fear expressed by the officers, Ringgenberg had a level three holster with both a hood and a button lock release to prevent his gun from being simply pulled out of its holster. (Ringgenberg stated he could not recall if he reset the hood after pulling his gun initially and then reholstering it, but presumably he reholstered his gun with the same automatic motion as always). The video and the forensic evidence together indicate that the gun remained securely locked in the holster. There is no sign that it moved even one centimeter out of the holster.

Ringgenberg also had a duty belt that must have been rotated to bring the gun all the way to the small of his back as he claimed, that was secured with belt keepers.

Ringgenberg BCA interview p252: “Mine’s snap they there’s ah two buttons or two snaps on each keeper.” Question: “Okay two snaps on each keeper. You’ve got four of them total.” Ringgenberg: “Ah five total.” Question: “Five total and that’s designed to keep your belt stable when you have to move, run jump.” […] Question: “You feel the weapon is actually pulled to the small of your back which means those keepers came loose?” Ringgenberg: “I don’t remember if they came loose or not.”

The video suggests they did not. It is unclear why Freeman stated at his press conference that they “had become unsnapped” (presumably meaning all of them), given Ringgenberg’s own uncertainty. The duty belt is indeed slightly rotated as Ringgenberg is still on the ground, facing the ambulance camera; his extra clips are closer to the middle of his torso than is typical. The rotation is maybe a couple inches and could have been caused by his wriggling around on Clark including for over 10 seconds after Clark had already been shot by Schwarze.

 

III. Schwarze and Ringgenberg made false statements about key details

a) In attempting to justify the decision not to turn on emergency lights and the recording that goes with them, Schwarze falsely described the route from the 4th Precinct parking lot to 1611 Plymouth as lacking any stop signs or (potential) red lights.

Schwarze BCA interview p222: “We didn’t turn our lights on to get to this call.” Question: “Can you tell me why?” Schwarze: “We were so close to the call, when we exited the parking lot that, there was no faster way to get there than the way get there. Turning our lights and sirens on would not have expedited the process of us arriving at this call any sooner. This was towards the middle of the night that this happened so there was very little if any traffic on the road. Um there was no stop signs or red lights or anything this was a very quick within three blocks a range of our police department.”

In actuality, after leaving the 4th Precinct lot there is a stop sign on Morgan as you turn onto Plymouth, and then traffic signal lights at Logan, as can be confirmed with Google Maps street view. Most of the squads responding from the 4th Precinct after Clark was shot did activate their emergency lights. It should be noted that turning on lights also triggers activation of the recording system, which is also important when responding to emergencies. Finally, Schwarze claims that lights and sirens would not have gotten them to 1611 sooner, without addressing the delay between when their squad 424 was dispatched and when it arrived. The BCA interviewers do not challenge the explanation for the lack of lights or inquire about the delay.

 

b) Both officers falsely claimed that Ringgenberg drew his gun after Clark refused commands to remove his hands from his pockets.

Trullinger MPD interview BCA p802: “So the three of us, you know the officers and I were kinda walking towards him and I did notice that the officer I talked to, withdrew his weapon and held it down […] With him as he walked up I could hear the individual, the suspect say Why do you have your gun out? and he goes… or first, I’m sorry, first the officer said Do you have any weapons on you? and the guy said No man. Why do you have your gun out? Why do you have your gun out? and you could see him you know starting to get up, you know kinda uppity or whatever. I said Do you got this? I’m going to go check on my crew. And they said Yup.”

Trullinger MPD interview BCA p805: “The first officer, he just unsnapped or whatever they do with those holsters, I don’t know if its swivel now a days, he set it down and, and he just said do you have any weapons? and that’s when he was starting to address the suspect. And the guy’s started like yelling something at him and why do you have a gun out.”

 

Schwarze BCA interview p224: “I said take your hands out of your pockets. Ah at the same time I was saying that my partner was also saying take your hands outta your pockets. I walked closer to this person I said take your hands outta your pockets again. I could also hear my partner saying take your hands outta your pockets. He didn’t move he just stood there. The same look on his face, both of his hands were still in his pockets. My par, I saw my partner ah take his gun out of his holster and now the, this male was saying what’s the pistol for, what’s the pistol for.”

 

Ringgenberg BCA interview p255: “So I walked towards him and I told him to take his hands out of his pockets. And he refused. And so as I was doing that I, I pulled my gun from my holster and I held it right in front of me. I never pointed it at him but I just walked towards him and I told him several more times take your hands out of your pockets. And he still refused. And all he would do is he would just yell what’s the pistol for. He just kept yelling that over and over again. So as I walked towards him I put my handgun in my holster and I grabbed his right hand cuz he was still refusing our orders to take his hands out of his pockets.”

The testimony of Trullinger as a neutral party should be given much more weight than that of Schwarze and Ringgenberg. Trullinger doesn’t criticize the officers and in fact seems to blame Clark for the nature of the encounter. But note the key differences: Trullinger says Ringgenberg drew his gun immediately, and asked if Clark had any weapons rather than giving an order for Clark to remove his hands from his pockets. The involved officers provide a narrative in which they encounter a non-compliant suspect and gradually and reasonably increase their use of force for safety reasons. Trullinger’s testimony undercuts this narrative entirely and shows instead the officers acting confrontational and aggressive.

 

ringgenberg_elbow_all

 

The Hayes rear video supports Trullinger’s version and contradicts the narrative provided by the involved officers. At 00:49:12 Ringgenberg finishes putting on gloves. The very next second, at 00:49:13, his right elbow moves back suggesting he is taking something from near his right hip, which is where his gun is holstered. A half second later his right hand appears to contain his gun – the original ambulance video, not degraded through youtube compression, is needed to confirm this. Only at 00:49:14 does Trullinger pat Ringgenberg on the back and move away toward the ambulance, leaving the officers with Clark. By 00:49:20, six seconds later, Clark’s feet appear and his subsequent movement indicates that the officers are already holding one or both of his arms.

 

c) Ringgenberg falsely claimed he grabbed the “upper chest area” when taking Clark to the ground.

Ringgenberg BCA interview p255: “I grabbed him around I went to grab around the upper chest area and tried to take him to the ground.”

As discussed under II(a) both eyewitness testimony and the video show Ringgenberg actually grabbed Clark around the neck.

 

d) Both officers claimed that Ringgenberg screamed or yelled “he’s got my gun” but surveillance video of passers-by reactions and testimony from EMTs on scene and eyewitnesses just across the street are flatly inconsistent with this narrative.

Schwarze BCA interview p224: “And he says it again this is the third time he said it now and he just he says he’s got my gun and it was just a screaming I’ve never heard Mark ever scream like this before. It was one of the most frightening things I think I’ve ever heard.”

 

Ringgenberg BCA interview p256: “I tell Dustin a couple more times, I keep telling him He’s got my gun.” Question: “When you say you tell him are you talking in a normal voice or are you yelling that?” Ringgenberg: “No I’m, I’m yelling.” Question: “So you’re screaming this, yelling this, what are you” Ringgenberg: “Yes I’m, I’m, I’m yelling I’m, I’m yelling.”

The pole camera video shows a few people drift toward the scene prior to the shot (not the behavior one would expect were someone screaming about a gun). One housing surveillance videos show two people walking away from the scene and another angle shows two people talking near a corner; in neither angle do the people particularly react until the shot goes off, at which point they either run or turn their full attention to the scene down the street.

All three EMTs in the ambulance heard the shot but did not hear any screaming prior to it. Multiple eyewitnesses from just across the street at the Elks club did not hear any screaming prior to the shot. When the two officers describe something that no other witnesses support, that does not match the behavior of people caught unaware on surveillance cameras, we must question the officers narrative.

Trullinger MPD interview BCA p809: Question: Did you hear a scuffle or anything like that outside?” Trullinger: “Um mostly it was verbal.” […] Question: “Okay, but you didn’t hear any fighting with the officers like…” Trullinger: “I could hear yelling, but in a rig (inaudible) it’s more of a muffled sound […] call it arguing I guess or is some kind of exchange where the patient was being loud.”

 

Haskell MPD interview BCA p871: Question: “And that’s where you heard the shot?” Haskell: “Yeah” Question: “And so and you never heard any arguing with the officer or anything?” Haskell: “No I didn’t hear a thing I wasn’t, we were talking with our supervisor as well so I may not have been paying attention to noises outside necessarily but not I don’t remember hearing any screaming, arguing.”

 

Thompson MPD interview BCA p789: Question: “So when you come out after you heard the shot, do you hear before that, before you can hear that shot (inaudible) the police.” Thompson: “I couldn’t hear anything. Um but I have hearing loss from my Iraq so for me that’s not a shock.”

 

BCA p144 witness TB: Question: “Did you hear any yelling?” TB: “No”

 

BCA p291 witness JG: “All he was saying was fuck y’all.” Question: “Did you hear the officers say anything?” JG: “No”

 

BCA p315 witness DG: Question: “Did you hear the cops say anything to him?” DG: “No I didn’t hear the cops say anything.” Question: “And was he shouting?” DG: “Mr. Clark? Mr. Clark he said fuck you a coupla times and yeah he did shout that out. Okay. But then after that, everything went so quick, was like pow, blood, smoke.”

 

BCA p367 witness TW: Question: “Did you hear any type of verbal um commands from the officers? Did you hear anything verbal come out of Mr. Clark at that time?” TW: “I didn’t hear anything coming from either one of ‘em. They may have been talking but I ah again I think I was just so shocked at what I was seeing.”

 

BCA p467 witness FB: Question: “Were the police saying anything to the person on the ground?” FB: “No” Question: “Where they talking to each other at all about what was going on?” FB: “Not that I could hear I couldn’t hear that, no.”

 

BCA p483 witness DB: Question: “Do you remember hearing anything that the officers said to the man?” DB: “I didn’t hear nothing that he was saying to him. I didn’t even see him moving his mouth talking to the guy that they shot.”

 

BCA p503 witness TT: Question: “And was he [Clark] speaking loudly?” TT: “Yes. He was yeah.” Question: “And the police officers were talking they were speaking quiet?” TT: “Quietly yes.” Question: “So you didn’t hear them say anything?” TT: “Um-um, I didn’t hear ‘em like saying nothin’ mean or calling him by a name or, or anything like that.” Question: “Before the shot went off did you hear the police officers saying anything when they kinda went down to the ground?” TT: “Nope, if they were saying anything they were view quiet with it or you know normal tones.”

False statements are also policy violations

MPD policy 5-101.01 TRUTHFULNESS (01/26/05) (11/15/13)

The integrity of police service is based on truthfulness. Officers shall not willfully or knowingly make an untruthful statement, verbally or written, or knowingly omit pertinent information pertaining to his/her official duty as a Minneapolis Police Officer.

MPD employees shall not willfully or knowingly make an untruthful statement or knowingly omit pertinent information in the presence of any supervisor, intended for the information of any supervisor, or before any court or hearing. Officers shall not make any false statements to justify a criminal or traffic charge or seek to unlawfully influence the outcome of any investigation. (12/14/07)

 

MPD policy 5-107 PROCEDURAL CODE OF CONDUCT

Employees shall not willfully misrepresent any matter, sign any false statement or report, or commit perjury before any court, grand jury or judicial hearing.