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Police worried Minneapolis protests may turn violent, union chief says — PHOTOS

As protesters remain outside Minneapolis’ 4th Precinct headquarters, some police officers are worried that the situation could turn violent. 

Protesters have been gathering for days, denouncing Sunday’s fatal police shooting of Jamar Clark. They say Clark was handcuffed when he was killed, but the head of the city’s police union and a lawyer for one of the two police officers involved in the shooting say that’s not true.

The lawyer says Clark had control of the officer’s gun when he was shot.

CNN affiliate WCCO reports that some protesters have been spraying graffiti and throwing rocks at officers.

Police also say that they’ve found Molotov cocktails nearby.

In an interview on WCCO radio, Lt. Bob Kroll, head of the city police union, accused Minneapolis Police Chief Janée Harteau and Mayor Betsy Hodges of not listening to police concerns. Harteau called in during the interview, leading to a tense conversation.

“We do have to facilitate the freedom of speech,” Harteau said. “But there’s also other things [that] occur when there’s Molotov cocktails being thrown, shots fired. When officers are struck with rocks and bottles and bricks, I want them to take action. They have taken action and it’s appropriate action.”

“I’m not asking anybody to put themselves in harm’s way unnecessarily and not protect themselves,” she added.

The investigation

A lawyer for the police officers involved in the shooting said Thursday that Clark had control of an officer’s gun during a scuffle in which he was fatally shot in the head early Sunday.

Officers Mike Ringgenberg and Dustin Schwarze were trying to arrest Clark, who “chose to resist, fight officers, and seize control of an officer’s handgun,” according to a media statement from Kroll and Frederic Bruno, attorney for Schwarze.

At a news conference Thursday, Kroll said the officer’s pistol “was in the holster and [Clark] had physical control of the hand grip,” Kroll told reporters.

Protesters have said that a witness claimed Clark was in handcuffs when he was shot.

Bruno and Kroll disputed that.

State and federal investigators are looking into the shooting. Officers and paramedics were responding to a call of a woman being assaulted. Authorities have said Clark was interfering with the woman’s medical care when Ringgenberg and Schwarze tried to arrest him.

Kroll said Clark was trying to pull the woman out of the ambulance.

Parts of the incident were recorded on several cameras, but no video shows the entire incident, said Drew Evans, superintendent of Minnesota Department of Public Safety’s Bureau of Criminal Apprehension. None of the videos will be released until the investigation is over.

This has angered the protesters outside the 4th Precinct.

Two men were arrested Thursday night after profanities were found spray-painted on the precinct building, the police department’s Twitter account said.

Earlier Thursday, several politicians met with protesters, including U.S. Rep. Keith Ellison, whose congressional district is centered in Minneapolis.

“We must all be committed to establish the facts of what happened in the interest of justice,” Ellison said on Facebook. “We must come together to heal our community and work together toward justice and fairness. I call on demonstrators to remain peaceful, and on law enforcement to exercise restraint.”

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