• Press Release

Amnesty International USA Statement on the Death of Jamar Clark

November 19, 2015

Justin Mazzola, Deputy Director of Research for Amnesty International USA (AIUSA), released the following statement:

"AIUSA welcomes announcements that the FBI has initiated a civil rights investigation into the recent shooting death of Jamar Clark. According to police reports, Minneapolis Police officers were responding to an altercation in the early morning hours of November 15th when Clark was shot in the head. Clark was unarmed and there are conflicting reports on whether he was handcuffed when he was shot. He was removed from life support on Monday and died shortly thereafter. 

"The Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension (BCA), the state’s top investigative agency, has taken over the criminal investigation into Clark’s death. The investigations by the BCA and the FBI are ongoing and should be concluded as soon as practicable but must be conducted in a transparent manner, as this case raises wider issues for the Minneapolis community, and merits public scrutiny including of any video of the incident. Authorities must also keep Jamar Clark’s family informed throughout the investigation and if the evidence indicates that the killing was unlawful, the police officer responsible should be criminally prosecuted.

"Protests have taken place in and around the City of Minneapolis since news of the shooting became public. On Monday evening, hundreds of protesters staged a demonstration on Interstate 94, bringing traffic to a halt. Minnesota State Police arrested 42 people, including at least one member of the media, for refusing to clear the highway.

"Those who wish to peacefully protest should be allowed to do so in accordance with their right to freedom of expression and assembly. AIUSA calls on law enforcement officers that are policing protests to provide clear directions to protesters when an order to disperse has been provided and refrain from arresting individuals who are in attendance in order to report on or observe the events and are not involved in the protests themselves."

In 2015, AIUSA released its report, Deadly Force: Police use of lethal force in the United States, which found that all state statutes on the use of lethal force, including Minnesota’s, fail to comply with international law and standards on the use of lethal force by law enforcement officers. The organization is calling on the Minnesota Legislature to amend its state statute, Minn. Stat. § 609.066, to restrict the use of lethal force to as a matter of last resort in those situations when an officer or others are faced with an imminent threat of death or serious injury, and only after non-violent means have been exhausted.