The head of the Minneapolis NAACP called Monday for a new criminal investigation into the fatal police shooting of Jamar Clark, contending that Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman was wrong to clear the two officers.
Additionally, RayAnn Hayes, who was with Clark moments before police shot him, insisted that she was not assaulted by him that night — contrary to statements she gave to investigators.
Speaking during an NAACP-organized news conference at Hennepin County Government Center, Hayes said Clark never touched her. Clark "was not hysterical" in the moments before he was shot last fall, Hayes said. "He wasn't hitting the windows [after she was put in an ambulance] and wasn't crazy," she said.
"He was just standing there," she said.
In a statement later Monday afternoon, Freeman said Hayes identified Clark as her assailant to paramedics the night Clark was killed.
Minneapolis NAACP President Nekima Levy-Pounds stood beside Hayes at the news conference and called for a new investigation into the Nov. 15 shooting with a special prosecutor to delve more deeply into the case. Levy-Pounds said she planned to contact the state attorney general's office.
If that falls through, she said, she would reach out to the governor's office or the U.S. attorney general.
Ben Wogsland, a spokesman for state Attorney General Lori Swanson, said the office had not been notified of any request and could not comment.
Freeman, in his statement, recited evidence he released last week. He said one paramedic stated, "The female, our patient, says that's the guy that did this. He did this to me," referring to Clark. This information was shared with the officers, Freeman said.
"We are aware that Ms. Hayes also gave statements later that night she was assaulted by Clark, but months later claimed that she was not assaulted by him," Freeman said.
Levy-Pounds reiterated points she has made since Freeman announced last week that neither officer involved in the shooting would be charged, alleging that he ignored the accounts of 20 black witnesses that implicate officers Mark Ringgenberg and Dustin Schwarze, and that the DNA is not a "truth serum" in this case.
Freeman said last week that Clark's DNA was "all over" the grip of Ringgenberg's gun as well as the weapon's holster and belt. Freeman's critics have said that should not be surprising, given that Clark and the officers were on the ground in a struggle.
Officers' actions are based on information they have at the time, Freeman said.
"I am convinced that if one reads the entire record available online and applies the mandated legal standard, they will agree that no charges can be brought against the police officers," Freeman said.
'I don't care what they say'
A federal investigation is underway to see whether the Minneapolis Police Department violated any civil rights laws. The officers are white and Clark was black.
Also pending are results from a Police Department internal investigation. Clark's family members have said they intend to sue those they say are responsible for his death.
Hayes' statements have differed over time in accounts she has given to investigators and others about her relationship with Clark. Hayes, 41, says she was a very close friend of the 24-year-old Clark and not his girlfriend. Freeman said some witnesses who knew both Hayes and Clark characterized their relationship as being of a romantic or domestic nature.
Hayes also challenged the officers' assertion that during the struggle, Clark said that he was ready to die.
"He loved life," Hayes said. "Never in a million years would he say I'm ready to die."
A witness from the night of the shooting described Hayes as Clark's girlfriend and said the two got into a fight and Clark's face was injured.
A woman who gave her name as RayAnn told the 911 dispatcher: "There was an altercation downstairs in the building and I tried to break it up and in the process of it I think my leg's sprained. I can't move." When the dispatcher asked whether she knows who hurt her, the caller said no.
At the hospital, a police investigator interviewed Hayes, who said she was thrown to the ground by a man she later identified as Clark. She said Clark apologized. Later in the interview, she said he didn't knock her to the floor but they fell after he grabbed her.
Hayes said in that initial interview that Clark head-butted her and that her lip needed stitches. She later said Clark usually is a "pretty calm person. So I don't know what was going on tonight."
Then in a February interview with state investigators, Hayes said Clark never beat her. "There was never no fight," she said. "I don't know who said it was domestic. There was none of that."
Hayes said Monday she's never changed her story about what happened that night. "I don't care what they say," she told reporters. "I'm telling you what I'm saying now."
She added that she couldn't recall if she was interviewed by law enforcement during her two-day stay in the hospital, and hadn't heard about any evidence in Clark's case until Freeman's news conference. After taking a few questions from reporters, she asked the media to stop bothering her family.
"I never wanted the focus to be on me," she said.
Also attending the news briefing, the NAACP statement continued, was Teto Wilson, who walked out of the Elks Lodge across the street from the shooting that night and has said since it happened that Clark was compliant with the officers.
"The story that [investigators] gave was far different from what I witnessed," Wilson said. "[Clark] was not fighting [the officers]."