Where was Chief Harteau’s statement when her officers killed Jamar Clark?


By Harry Colbert, Jr., Managing Editor

Outrage seems to be pretty selective these days.

Much of Minneapolis and the surrounding area has expressed outrage and utter disgust directed at a Minneapolis police officer in the July 8 shooting of two pit bulls. The shooting – captured on video – was the result of an accidentally tripped home alarm. An as yet unidentified officer climbed over the home’s seven-foot privacy gate where he encountered the two pit bulls. One appears to be cautiously approaching the officer when the officer shoots the first dog. The second runs towards the officer and the officer shoots it three times. Thankfully both dogs survived the shootings. According to a statement released by Minneapolis Police Chief Janeé Harteau the shooting is under investigation.

The chief seems pretty broken up by this particular police involved shooting.

“I’ve watched the video, and as someone whose family has included dogs most of my life, I can say that it was difficult to watch,” said Harteau in her statement, issued on July 10. “This was an outcome that no one wanted. I’ve asked for an Internal Affairs use of force review. We are reaching out to the family to help them with the veterinary care bills to ensure that both dogs are adequately taken care of.”

There’s a lot to unpack there, so let’s start unpacking. There are so many issues at play here. Let’s start addressing the many elephants in the room.

While we agree this video was hard to watch, so too was the Nov. 15, 2015 video of Minneapolis Police Officers Mark Ringgenberg and Dustin Schwarze killing an unarmed Jamar Clark – just 24 years old. We ask where was the swift statement of condemnation by the chief in that incident?

Let it be said that I’m not condoning the officer in this most recent case. But it should be noted that the officer who shot the two dogs is Black and the owner of the pit bulls is white. Call me a bit skeptical, but I’m having a hard time believing had the ethnicity of the two been reversed the swift call for community justice may not have been made. And let the obvious be stated. No one is holding the ethnicity of the dog owners against her.

Now back to Harteau’s statement. The department is paying for the dogs’ vet bills? That’s a relief. Otherwise the dogs’ owner would have to rely on the nearly $30,000-plus raised in just two days via a Go Fund Me campaign. I’m sure the same contributors contributed handsomely to pay for Clark’s medical and funeral bills. But I digress.

Where was I? Oh yeah, Harteau’s statement.

“To help us prevent similar outcomes in the future, we will be implementing updated mandatory training specifically for officers identifying effective tools and tactical strategies with police and dog encounters,” said the chief in her swift statement. “We want both our officers and all our community members to be safe.”

I too want both officers and all community members to be safe. Which is why I’m so perplexed that when the chief offered her statement in the killing of Clark – a statement that came nearly a year after the shooting – she concluded “the use of deadly force was warranted given the fact that both officers (Ringgenberg and Schwarze) feared for the loss of life.” Not once in her statement did she call for “updated mandatory training.” In fact, Harteau praised her killing officers saying, “These officers did not have the opportunity to negotiate or tactically withdraw,” and “I have concluded that these officers did not dictate the outcome of this incident.”

Victim blame much Chief Harteau?

Based on your statement in the Clark killing, why even investigate the dog shooting? Certainly the officer in this shooting didn’t have the opportunity to “negotiate or tactically withdraw.” Of course the officer did not dictate the outcome. It was all the dogs’ fault. How dare them be dogs … on their own property.

I guess when you look at it, Ringgenberg and Schwarze aren’t to blame in killing Clark. How dare Clark have the audacity to be openly Black? After all, that’s the real reason he’s dead. Can we finally quit dancing around that truth?

I’m pained that two innocent dogs were shot by a Minneapolis police officer. But I’m downright disgusted and heartbroken that Black human beings in America and right here in the Twin Cities are being shot seemingly daily at the hands of police. It appears dogs are more beloved and entitled to justice than Black men, women and children in America … in Minneapolis.

Chief Harteau, that’s my statement of outrage.

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