Dayton meets with Jamar Clark's family, discusses release of police shooting videos

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Gov. Mark Dayton met with the family of Jamar Clark Saturday afternoon, along with leaders of Black Lives Matter and U.S. Rep. Keith Ellison, who represents Minneapolis in Congress, to discuss the ongoing tension over the recent fatal police shooting of 24-year-old Jamar Clark of Minneapolis.

In a statement released by the governor Saturday evening, Dayton said he expressed his sympathy to Clark's family and the community over their loss.

He also noted that federal Department of Justice attorneys are flying into Minnesota Sunday to continue their investigation into the shooting.

The FBI and Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension are conducting an independent investigation into Clark's death. Many protesters claim Clark was handcuffed when an officer shot him in the head, but the police deny that claim. 

Hundreds of protesters have been demonstrating outside the police department's Fourth Precinct for a week, calling for "Justice for Jamar."

One of their key demands is for authorities to release surveillance and witness videos of the shooting, which occurred shortly before 1 a.m. on Nov. 15 after Clark is said to have interfered with paramedics as they tried to treat a woman he is suspected of assaulting.

Federal officials say they won't release the tapes at this point because it could be "detrimental" to their investigation. Releasing the tapes could prejudice the statements given by witnesses, they said, as it would increase the chances they would describe what was seen on the footage, rather than what they actually witnessed.

Dayton said he is asking for more discussion about when the tapes can be released.

“I asked the family and Black Lives Matter leaders to meet with the Department of Justice Attorneys, who will be flying to Minnesota tomorrow, to discuss the disposition of the tapes.“I will urge that the tapes be provided to the family and released to the public, as soon as doing so will not jeopardize the Department of Justice’s investigation.

Dayton is also asking federal officials to investigate "any matters which occurred in Minneapolis during the past week that may have violated the civil rights of any Minnesota citizens," a reference to the ongoing protests in north Minneapolis which have sometimes led to confrontations between police and residents.

That request led to an immediate response from Minneapolis Police Chief Janee Harteau, who issued a statement praising her officers for their professionalism this past week.

"Any investigation, federal, state, or county into my officers' conduct at the 4th Precinct during this time will only confirm the strength of the work my officers did protecting both public safety and the freedom of speech," Harteau said. 

Mayor Betsy Hodges also released a statement saying essentially the same thing.

"Police officers have shown restraint and professionalism under very challenging conditions, and most protesters have gathered peacefully," said Hodges. "I have asked officers and protesters to continue to exercise restraint and respect as we continue to balance the need to grieve and protest peacefully with the need to ensure everyone’s safety."

The governor added that he will meet with Black Lives Matter Minneapolis and other community activists again in December. You can read his full statement here.

Demonstrators continue their presence outside the Fourth Precinct Saturday, the Star Tribune reports. Union leaders held a rally there Saturday afternoon to show their support for the protesters.

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