A man named Jamar Clark was shot and killed in Minneapolis by police officers in November of 2015, sparking protests and outrage. Though the case faded from public view while things were being sorted out, it's now come back up quickly as it was announced on Wednesday, March 30, that the officers would not be charged for their part in the shooting.
Clark was 24 years old at the time of his death. Officers had been called to the scene because of reports that an assault was taking place, and a young woman had been injured badly enough that she needed help from the paramedics. The officers believed that Clark was the one who had attacked her, and they also said he was trying to make it harder for the paramedics to help her. In the ensuing chaos, the man apparently scuffled with officers and was shot.
There are numerous conflicts in the reports. Some witnesses claimed that the officers had first put him in handcuffs and then killed him while he was defenseless. However, authorities interviewed those witnesses and said that they contradicted each other, leading them to believe that this account was not true.
According to the police, the young man had not been handcuffed. Furthermore, though he wasn't armed, he tried to take a gun from one of the police officers. They told him to let go of it, he refused to do so, and they had no choice but to shoot him to protect their own lives.
Many people have been critical of the decision, saying that the Hennepin County attorney listened to the police officers more than civilians who had seen what happened. However, the attorney claimed that forensic and video evidence backed up the decision.
The Value of Gathering Evidence
This is a controversial case and seems likely to remain so, and it's an important ruling from that standpoint. It also shows how essential it is to gather different types of evidence when anything this serious happens, from witness accounts to video surveillance to forensic evidence. Those who are facing potential criminal charges need to know how all of these things can work together and what they need to present to influence a case.
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