St. Paul, Minn. (Feb. 9, 2016) — The American Civil Liberties Union of Minnesota filed a lawsuit Tuesday on behalf of itself and the NAACP Minneapolis, against Minnesota’s Bureau of Criminal Apprehension and the Minnesota Department of Public Safety to force the release of video footage documenting the police killing of Jamar Clark.
Minneapolis police shot and killed Jamar Clark, an unarmed 24-year-old African American man, in November 2015. The public has a right to access this footage and the Defendants’ refusal to release it violates the Minnesota Government Data Practices Act.
“The police have tremendous authority, including the ability to use reasonable force. It’s entirely consistent with our democratic values for the public to demand government accountability and transparency when police use force, especially if it results in a life being taken,” stated Charles Samuelson, Executive Director of the ACLU-MN.
The case, filed in Minnesota State Court, asserts that the Minnesota Government Data Practices Act requires Defendants to release the videos as soon as possible. In addition, under the law, information should be released where the benefit to the public outweighs any potential harm.
Co-counsel Catherine Ahlin and Haley Schaffer of Maslon LLP have released the following joint statement: “Minnesota state law is clear that the video footage of the officer-involved shooting resulting in Jamar Clark’s death must be released to the public as soon as possible.”
Minnesota residents have been demanding the release of this footage for months. Demonstrators had staged a continued protest at the precinct near where Mr. Clark was shot, organized numerous marches, and repeatedly asked for the release of the tapes.
“Our community is in a great deal of pain as a result of the shooting of Jamar Clark at the hands of the Minneapolis Police Department,” stated Nekima Levy-Pounds, President of the NAACP Minneapolis. “It’s imperative that we demand accountability and transparency, which includes being able to gain access to the video footage of this tragic incident. We demand an end to police brutality, the police shooting of unarmed persons, and the criminalization of African Americans in the city of Minneapolis.”
Jamar Clark’s family is not affiliated with the case. Cooperating attorneys in the case include Catherine Ahlin-Halverson, Haley Schaffer, and Jevon Bindman of Maslon LLP along with Teresa Nelson of the ACLU-MN.