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On the evening of March 18, 2018, 23-year old Stephon Clark was shot and killed in his grandmother’s backyard where he lived, by two officers of the Sacramento Police Department.  When the officers confronted Clark, they were looking for a suspect who, according to the 911 call, was breaking car windows in the Meadowview neighborhood and was running through backyards.

Footage of the shooting, which was captured by the two officers’ body cameras and a police helicopter-was released to the public three days after the shooting.  It shows the two officers pursuing a man who hopped a fence into the grandmother’s property.  The body camera videos show the brief encounter between police and Clark, lasting less than a minute, from the moment one of the officers yelled: “Hey, show me your hands. Stop. Stop.”

Police said the officers entered the front yard and saw the suspect along the side of the home. The man “turned and advanced toward the officers while holding an object” extended in front of him, according to the police account.  “Show me your hands!” one of the officers yelled. “Gun, gun, gun.”  Seconds later, officers opened fire as they took cover near a wall.  The officers fired 20 shots, hitting Clark multiple times but no weapon was found, only a cell phone.  Police said they found at least three vehicles with damage they believe Clark caused, as well as an adjacent residence with a shattered sliding glass door. Deputies in the helicopter witnessed him shatter the door, police said.

The two officers have been placed on paid administrative leave amid a use of force investigation.  The shooting has sparked protests on the streets of Sacramento.  The family of Stephon Clark is demanding criminal charges for the Sacramento police officers responsible for the fatal shooting.  Stephon Clark’s grandmother, Sequita Thompson, spoke at a news conference “My grandson was 23 years old. And then, now my great-grandbabies don’t have their daddy, because they didn’t even stop. Why didn’t you just shoot him in the arm, shoot him in the leg, send the dogs, send a taser? Why? Why? You all didn’t have to do that. You all didn’t have to—over a cellphone. I just want justice for my grandson, for my daughter, my poor babies. They’re in so much pain. She’s in pain, and the brothers. He’s got two brothers. Justice. I want justice for my baby! I want justice for Stephon Clark! Please, give us justice!”

An independent autopsy — commissioned Clark’s family and conducted by Dr. Bennet Omalu, a private medical examiner — showed that Clark was shot eight times.  He was shot three times in his lower back, twice near his right shoulder, once in his neck and once under an armpit. He was also shot in the leg. The neck wound was from the side, the doctor found, and he said that while the shot to the leg hit Mr. Clark in the front, it appeared to have been fired after he was already falling.

His relatives have hired civil rights attorney Ben Crump, who represented the families of Trayvon Martin, Michael Brown and others.  “The shooting death of Stephon Clark is an all-too-common tragedy,” Crump said in a statement. “It is yet another troubling example of a young, unarmed black man being shot by police under highly questionable circumstances.”

 

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