A federal judge has demanded on two days’ notice that high-ranking Minneapolis officials show up in his courtroom Wednesday to discuss the status of a lawsuit over the police shooting death of Jamar Clark in November 2015.
Senior U.S. District Court Judge Michael Davis’ order provided no detail about what will happen at the hearing, but it came down the first business day after the city reached a $20 million settlement with the family of Justine Ruszczyk Damond.
Then-Minneapolis police officer Mohamed Noor fatally shot Damond on July 15, 2017, in the alley behind her home after she called 911 about a possible sexual assault. He was convicted of third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter last month.
Clark’s family filed an excessive force lawsuit over his death on June 8, 2017, a month before Damond was killed. Clark was shot in the head on Nov. 15, 2015, after an encounter with Minneapolis police officers Mark Ringgenberg and Dustin Schwarze. Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman declined to charge the two officers, and the lawsuit over Clark’s death is still pending in federal court.
The facts of the cases differ, but they still raise issues about race and class. Damond was a white woman who lived in the affluent southwestern part of the city. Clark was a black man who lived in one of the city’s poorer, more violent areas.
Wednesday’s status conference will be in the courtroom and on the record.
Until now, the Clark lawsuit had been handled by U.S. Magistrate Tony Leung.
Davis’ order, issued Monday, was done on unusually short notice. It’s also rare for Davis to demand by name and title that the following appear: Mayor Jacob Frey, City Council President Lisa Bender, Police Chief Medaria Arradondo and City Attorney Susan Segal.
Lawyers for Clark and the city didn’t return calls Tuesday.
According to the investigation after Clark’s shooting, Ringgenberg felt Clark’s hand on his gun as he took him to the ground and told Schwarze, his partner, to shoot. Schwarze told investigators he warned Clark to let go of Ringgenberg’s gun before shooting him.
Clark died the following day after being taken off life support.
The Clark lawsuit said his right to be free from excessive force was violated when the officers took him to the ground and shot him.
Separate state and federal investigations after Clark’s death cleared Ringgenberg and Schwarze of criminal and civil wrongdoing.
Motions filed by the two officers seeking to be dismissed from the case are currently pending in the lawsuit.
When the lawsuit was filed, police union President Lt. Bob Kroll said the city should take the case to trial rather than settle out of court.
In July 2016, six months after Clark died, Philando Castile, 32, was fatally shot by then-St. Anthony police officer Jeronimo Yanez. A jury acquitted Yanez of criminal charges in Castile’s death, but he was fired from the department. Castile’s survivors reached a $3 million settlement with St. Anthony, the maximum allowed by the city’s insurer.