Minneapolis reaches tentative $200,000 settlement with family of Jamar Clark
Lawyer says they realized change would not come via courts; Mpls. must approve deal.
The family of Jamar Clark, who was fatally shot by Minneapolis police in 2015, has reached a $200,000 tentative settlement with the city months after the City Council rejected a previous five-figure offer as too low.
David Suro, the lawyer representing Clark’s father, said the settlement was reached Thursday afternoon after closed-door mediation with the sides in separate rooms. “What this family really wanted wasn’t money,” Suro said. “They would like to see some accountability.”
But Suro said the family came to understand that systemic changes to police training weren’t possible through the courts. The family is satisfied with the $200,000, he said. “They were after change, and the city has indicated that’s not part of this process,” Suro said.
City Attorney Susan Segal wouldn’t comment on the mediation and said the deal isn’t done yet. The City Council will be asked to sign off on the amount. The council is likely to discuss the proposal in a closed session after the next council meeting Aug. 23. If the council agrees to the amount, a vote would be taken in open session.
Council members reached late Thursday declined to say anything about the $200,000 proposal. Council President Lisa Bender, who has been part of mediation sessions, deferred to Segal. Mayor Jacob Frey, who has also participated in talks, didn’t respond to a request for comment.
Approval isn’t guaranteed. The council rejected a previous five-figure settlement with Clark’s family because it was too low.
That vote came the same day in May that the council approved a $20 million settlement in the death of Justine Ruszczyk Damond. The Australian native was fatally shot by Minneapolis police officer Mohammed Noor after she called 911 seeking help. Noor was convicted of second-degree manslaughter and third-degree murder and is serving a 12-year prison sentence.
Clark, 24, was shot in the head on Nov. 15, 2015, after an encounter with Minneapolis police officers Mark Ringgenberg and Dustin Schwarze on the city’s North Side, sparking weeks of protest. Clark was unarmed.
Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman declined to charge the two officers. According to the investigation, Ringgenberg felt Clark’s hand on his gun after 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’s death also gave rise to the Twin Cities Coalition for Justice 4 Jamar, which demanded that the city also pay the Clark family $20 million.
The excessive-force lawsuit remained in place against only Ringgenberg, the officer who took Clark to the ground. Schwarze, who shot Clark at Ringgenberg’s behest, was dismissed from the lawsuit.
Ringgenberg “didn’t have to take him to the ground. He could have taken his hands,” Suro said.
After the settlement was reached in the Damond case, U.S. District Judge Michael Davis ordered city leaders and Clark’s lawyers into court. He directed them to mediation. The first session yielded nothing, with Clark’s side seeking $20 million and the city declining to counter, Suro said at the time.
Staff writers Andy Mannix and Miguel Otárola contributed to this report.