(Reuters) - Two Minnesota police officers involved in the shooting death of a 24-year-old black man will not face charges after an internal investigation determined they did not violate police policy and were justified in the use of deadly force, the Minneapolis Police Department(MPD) said on Friday.
Jamar Clark was killed during a struggle with Officers Mark Ringgenberg and Dustin Schwarze, who are white, in November 2015. The incident came at a time of intense debate in the United States over police use of force in minority communities and Clark’s death sparked protests where dozens where arrested.
“The officers will not be criminally charged and we have concluded there were no violations of MPD policy,” police chief Janeé Harteau told a news conference on Friday.
Harteau said the shooting had been devastating for the Clark family and that she had met with them earlier on Friday. She said she was scheduled to meet with community groups following the news conference to explain the decision.
Albert Goins, an attorney for the Clark family, could not immediately be reached for comment. Lawyers for the officers also could not be reached.
Nekima Levy-Pounds, president of the NAACP of Minneapolis, said on Friday that she was “saddened although not surprised” by the decision.
Minneapolis Mayor Betsy Hodges said that she fully supported Harteau’s decision.
Harteau said Clark was not handcuffed when police confronted him on Nov. 15, 2015, and DNA evidence showed that he grabbed Ringgenberg’s holster and gun.
Schwarze shot Clark during the confrontation.
“I have concluded that the use of deadly force in the line of duty was necessary to protect an officer from apparent death or great bodily harm,” she said.
Harteau also said that a take-down maneuver used by Ringgenberg, which had be the focus of criticism from activists, was justified.
“After an exhaustive review of this entire incident, I have concluded that these officers did not dictate the outcome of this incident. This was an outcome that no one wanted,” she said.
The police department’s announcement follows a June decision by federal prosecutors not to bring charges against the two officers.
In March, Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman did not charge the officers because evidence showed Clark was not handcuffed and that he reached for an officer’s gun.
Reporting by Timothy Mclaughlin in Chicago; Editing by Cynthia Osterman