MINNEAPOLIS (Reuters) - The head of the Minneapolis NAACP on Thursday joined protesters in demanding the release of videos of the shooting of an unarmed black man by city police officers during an altercation.
Nekima Levy-Pounds, president of the Minneapolis National jamar Association for the Advancement of Color People, said there have been “so many false narratives spun by the Minneapolis Police Department as to what has happened.”
“Enough is enough,” she told about 75 protesters and members of the media at a news conference outside the police precinct near where Jamar Clark, 24, was shot early Sunday.
Clark is the latest in a series of unarmed black people to be killed at the hands of police in the United States in the past several years, fueling protests nationwide.
Community activists have said Clark was unarmed and handcuffed when he was shot shortly after midnight on Sunday. With the investigation of the shooting under way, city and state officials have not released videos that might show what happened.
“We’re demanding release of the tapes,” Levy-Pounds said. “We’re demanding reform of the police department and we are demanding justice for Jamar Clark right now.”
Authorities have said there was no video of the shooting from police dashboard or body cameras but investigators are reviewing video from business and security cameras in the area. They also are checking witnesses’ cellphones but none of those videos captured the entire incident.
Levy-Pounds, who also called for grief counselors for those who witnessed the shooting, said Clark’s case was “just the tip of the iceberg in terms of the abuse and harassment.”
On Wednesday, the Minnesota Department of Public Safety identified the officers involved in the shooting but did not reveal their race. Both are on administrative leave during the investigation of the incident.
Bob Kroll, a spokesman for the union representing Minneapolis police officers, said Clark was never handcuffed and “was disarming the officer” during the altercation. He also said Clark had a violent history and that the officers had no record of discipline by the department.
Drew Evans, superintendent of the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension, which is investigating the incident, has said Clark was unarmed and the BCA was still trying to determine whether he was handcuffed.
According to the BCA, the police officers had responded to a request for assistance from paramedics who reported that someone was interfering as they tried to help an assault victim.
The BCA said Clark, who died on Monday night at a hospital, was a suspect in the assault and had an altercation with the officers before one of them shot him.
Protesters have set up a camp, including more than 12 tents and half a dozen camp fires, in front of the police precinct building near the shooting site in north Minneapolis. A sign near the building reads “Justice4Jamar.”
On Thursday afternoon, dozens of gallons and spray bottles of milk, which is often used to rinse out eyes that have been exposed to pepper spray, were seen throughout the protest site.
Reporting by Brendan O'Brien; Writing by Ben Klayman; Editing by Bill Trott