On Friday, tens of protesters piled into the Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman’s office in Minneapolis, Minnesota demanding that he prosecute the two police officers involved in the shooting of Jamar Clark.
Clark was shot by police on November 15, 2015, and died at Hennepin County Medical Center the following evening. He was 24 years old, black, and unarmed at the time of the occurrence.
“No grand jury! No grand jury!” shouted the group as it entered the glass-paned offices of the building. “We are here today to demand the direct prosecution of Dustin Schwarze and Mark Ringgenberg, the officers involved in the shooting of Jamar Clark,” said one of the protesters.
Their demands are for the officers to be charged with murder without a grand jury even though the county attorney has already announced that he intends to use one.
The protesters don’t want a grand jury because it’s a process that is completely secret. It is a procedure by which a prosecutor works with a jury to decide whether or not to charge or indict the accused. There is no judge. It’s just the prosecutor and the jury. The reason for this is to encourage witnesses to speak freely, and to protect the defendants’ reputation.
However, a grand jury process was used in the cases involving the deaths of Mike Brown and Tamir Rice. Their killers, who were police officers as well, were not charged.
“We want this to be a public thing,” said Jodie Carroll, one of the protesters, to ABC News on Friday. She added that she wants “murder charges brought up and these police officers prosecuted by the law in a fair trial.”
Former U.S. Attorney for Minnesota Rachel Paulose does not think the protesters will get what they’re asking for.
“I think it would be very unusual and perhaps problematic if in the middle of a grand jury process he [the county attorney] suspended that process, and elected to use a different means to consider charges against these officers,” she said.