US

Charges possible against men accused in shooting of 5 Minneapolis protesters

Prosecutors faced a deadline Monday to file charges against four men arrested last week after shots were fired at people in Minneapolis protesting the shooting of a black man by police.

Five people were wounded on Nov. 23 near a police precinct where dozens of protesters have been camped out since the Nov. 15 fatal shooting of Jamar Clark. None of the injured — all black men — suffered life-threatening wounds.

Prosecutors have until noon charge the men, ages 27, 26, 23 and 21. Three are white and the fourth is Asian.

A search warrant says one of the men called an old high school friend who is a Mankato police officer and confessed to the shootings. The documents say the 23-year-old man told the officer he and some friends went to the protest to livestream it. The altercation broke out when protesters tried to escort the men away from the demonstration.

Clark, 24, died in a confrontation with police who were responding to an assault call in which Clark was a suspect. Police say they arrived to find him interfering with paramedics trying to treat an injured woman. They say a scuffle followed and Clark was shot once in the head.

Some community members have alleged Clark was handcuffed when he was shot, which police have disputed. An attorney for one of the officers says Clark was not handcuffed, was trying to get an officer's weapon and "had manual control" of the gun when he was shot. No other gun was found at the scene.

The state Bureau of Criminal Apprehension, which is investigating the case, says handcuffs were found at the scene but it isn't clear whether Clark was cuffed at the time of the shooting. A federal civil rights investigation is also underway.

Protesters have demanded that video be released and have vowed to remain outside the 4th Precinct, on the city's north side, despite calls that they end their occupation.

One of the officers involved is accused in a lawsuit, filed 10 days before Clark's death, of using excessive force during an arrest four years ago.

The lawsuit alleges that Dustin Schwarze, who was working as a Richfield police officer, used a stun gun on a passenger in a vehicle that was pulled over by officers in Richfield in December 2011. It also accuses Schwarze of threatening to beat that passenger and another if they exited the vehicle.

Two other officers and the city of Richfield also are named in the lawsuit, which has been moved from Hennepin County District Court to U.S. District Court. An attorney representing the city and Schwarze didn't immediately return a call Monday to comment.