By Harry Colbert, Jr., Contributing Writer –
With the initial 911 caller speaking out for the first time, community leaders are calling for a reopening into the investigation of two Minneapolis police officers involved in the killing of Jamar Clark.
RayAnn Hayes, the initial 911 caller on Nov. 15 – the night Clark was killed – said not only was the nature of her relationship with Clark mischaracterized, she was never the victim of a domestic incident and Clark was never aggressive towards her or paramedics. Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman mentioned Hayes by name when he announced he would not be filing charges against Minneapolis Police Officers Dustin Schwarze and Mark Ringgenberg – the officers involved in the 61-second encounter with Clark that ended with Clark being shot in the head. Clark was unarmed during the incident, but Freeman chose not to indict Schwarze and Ringgenberg citing the officers’ claims that they “feared for their lives” because, they said, Clark reached for Ringgenberg’s gun during a struggle that appeared to have been initiated by Ringgenberg. A portion of the encounter was captured on videotape. There is no known videotape of the actual shooting.
“The presentation by Mike Freeman has left us with more questions than answers,” said Minneapolis NAACP President Nekima Levy-Pounds. “The testimony of more than 20 African-American witnesses who came forward was discounted and it has resulted in a miscarriage of justice.”
Hayes said in no way was Clark combative towards her or paramedics and she never indicated Clark struck her, a claim made by Freeman during his March 30 press conference when he announced his decision not to indict.
“When you hear the 911 call, I was calm, I wasn’t hysterical or anything,” said Hayes. “I never said Jamar hit me, so I don’t know where they got that from. All these stories that are going around are not true … I’m just sick of the rumors.”
According to Hayes, she called 911 because she injured her leg trying to break up an altercation between two individuals at an apartment party. She said Clark was not involved in the altercation. She said she was quoted as giving a statement in the ambulance saying Clark hit her, but paramedics gave her a strong sedative for pain and she does not recall saying anything. The injury to Hayes’ leg was severe enough to require emergency surgery. She said she was so sedated and that she was unaware of Clark’s death until two days later when she was told by a family member.
Hayes said the rumors of her being romantically linked to Clark are also untrue. She said the two were friends and nothing more. According to Hayes, Clark told ambulance workers he was her son in order to ride with her to the hospital.
“That’s why he was knocking on the door, he was just trying to check on me,” said Hayes. “You can plainly see he wasn’t hysterical, he wasn’t out of control, he was just standing there. He was never trying to hurt me or anybody else.”
Hayes said she was stunned to hear her name on the news following Freeman’s press conference. She said prior to that she had never heard of Freeman.
“I never had an interview with Mike Freeman. I’ve never seen him until the other day when I saw him on the news and I still didn’t know who he was, so I don’t know where he gets his story from,” said Hayes.
Clark would have never wanted to die according to Hayes. Freeman quoted Schwarze and Ringgenberg saying Clark told them he was, “ready to die.”
“He (Clark) loved life. He was fun, he was a good person. He was life, he would have never said he was ready to die,” said Hayes.
Teto Wilson, an eyewitness to the shooting, also has issues with the police account. According to Wilson, at no time was Clark a threat to officers and he was pinned and completely subdued by officers when Schwarze fired the fatal shot.
“The story that they (police) gave was far different than what I witnessed,” said Wilson. “They had him thoroughly pinned down and he wasn’t moving. One of the cops had his knee pinned to Jamar. He wasn’t moving at all. The report that they put out was not true.”
Wilson also takes issue with the statement that Clark reached for Ringgenberg’s gun and proof was in Clark’s DNA being in the gun.
“Well of course there’s going to be DNA, this kid just got shot in the head so there’s going to be DNA matter everywhere,” said Wilson. “Why can’t we get (Clark’s) fingerprints on anything?”
The Minneapolis NAACP, Minneapolis Black Lives Matter and others are calling for Freeman to reopen the investigation into Clark’s shooting. Freeman issued a statement that said under the laws that he was bound by he had to come to the decision to not indict either officer.
“The prosecutor’s job is to answer the narrow question whether the police reacted unreasonably and without justification at the moment they used deadly force,” said Freeman in his statement. “If the answer to this question is that the officers acted reasonably in fear of their lives or lives of others, the prosecutor, under Minnesota Statutes and Supreme Court cases, cannot bring charges against them.”
At this time it has not been determined if the officers will face federal charges as a result of the killing.