There is no dispute that the events that led up to the police shooting of Jamar Clark last fall began with a call about an injured woman.
But little else about RayAnn Hayes’ involvement in the case is settled.
Her statements have differed over time in the accounts she has given to investigators and others; they’ve also differed from statements made by witnesses at the scene. What’s more, her relationship to Clark remains ambiguous.
In announcing this week that no charges would be filed against the officers for the Nov. 15 shooting, Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman said RayAnn Hayes, whom he referred to as Clark’s girlfriend, pointed out Clark to paramedics as the man who injured her in a dispute during a birthday party.
In a timeline of the moments before the shooting, Freeman recounted what happened when paramedics arrived.
“The paramedics put Hayes into a ‘stair chair’ to carry her down the stairs. As paramedics carried Hayes out of the building, they saw Clark standing outside crying and ‘acting kind of odd.’ As they walked past Clark, Hayes said, ‘That’s the guy who did this to me.’ ”
Freeman’s account was gleaned from interviews throughout the investigation.
On Thursday night, in an exclusive interview with WCCO-TV, Hayes said the investigators’ description of her role is wrong. Some of her statements in that interview varied from accounts she gave to investigators the night of the shooting and months later, as well as from the audio of the emergency call requesting an ambulance for an injured woman.
In the 911 call, a woman who gives her name as RayAnn says she can’t walk and needs to go to the emergency room. Her words seem slurred, but she sounds calm. There’s no mention of a domestic dispute or Clark.
“It’s not an emergency. I can’t walk,” she tells the 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.” She says the injury occurred about an hour to an hour and a half earlier.
When the dispatcher asks if she knows who hurt her, Hayes says, “No, it was just like people in the building.”
At the hospital, a Minneapolis police investigator interviewed Hayes, who said she was trying to break up a fight when she was thrown to the ground by a man she later identified as Clark. She said Clark went on to apologize, saying he thought she was someone else.
Later in the interview she said he didn’t knock her to the floor but grabbed her and they fell “like when your [sic] wrestling.”
Hayes said 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.” Clark’s autopsy showed a blood-alcohol level of .09 as well as the presence of THC, the active ingredient in marijuana.
Hayes denied calling police and suggested someone else called. When the investigator pointed out that her name is on the 911 call, she said the phone number belongs to another woman. “She called ’em … ’cause I never did.”
In an interview with a state Bureau of Criminal Apprehension investigator in February, 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.”
She said she had been wearing heels and twisted her ankle. “He was on the ground trying to help me. I don’t know what everybody was talking about he was beating me up. … I was drunk, but we all were, really.”
Once in the ambulance, Hayes said, she didn’t hear or see the altercation between Clark and the officers.
“I didn’t hear anything. They closed the door and I didn’t hear anything,” she said, according to transcripts.
Hayes said Clark lived with his sister in the same building as Hayes’ sister. She said she and Clark were “friends” but not romantically involved. Hayes told the investigator that news reports had identified Clark as her boyfriend. She said she wouldn’t talk to reporters. “They’re looking for someone else to blame besides the police,” she said. “I’m like, they can’t. You can’t blame me for the police shooting him.”
At the site of the November party, a witness described Hayes as Clark’s girlfriend and said the two got into a fight and Clark’s face was injured.
In her interview Thursday with WCCO, Hayes disputed that she was Clark’s girlfriend and that the 911 call resulted from a domestic dispute.
“Just because you’re with someone doesn’t mean you’re dating them,” she said in the TV interview. She said there was “no dispute. No domestic. None of that.”
She said police had “no reason to come and be combative at all, because they didn’t get a call like that. Not from me.”
Hayes said she twisted her ankle. “I hit the side of the door thing. I bust my lip. That’s all.”
In the ambulance, she said, she remembers being given a shot to alleviate her pain and lying down. “I remember Jamar coming up to the window and I remember the ambulance guy saying, ‘Oh, he’s trying to break in’ and I said, ‘No, he’s just trying to help me.’ ”
Hayes said she didn’t know Clark was fatally shot until two days later. She said she had agreed to be interviewed by WCCO because she’s “tired of the rumors.”
Mary Lynn Smith • 612-673-4788