It’s been a year since Sacramento police shot and killed Stephon Clark. The 22-year-old unarmed Black man died in his grandmother’s backyard.
Now, according to District Attorney Anne-Marie Schubert, the two officers who killed Clark will not face criminal charges.
In a more than hour-long news conference, the DA publicly went through the evidence gathered by investigators and discussed the law that governs when police are justified in the use of deadly force.
"The law requires that we judge the reasonableness of an officer's actions based upon the circumstances confronting them at that moment of time," Schubert told a packed room of reporters. In conclusion, she claimed it was clear that Sacramento police officers Jared Robinet and Terrence Mercadal did not commit a crime.
"We know [Clark] fled from the officers after being told to stop, we know that he continued into the backyard, and we know that when he continued into the backyard, he rounded that corner, and he went to the end of that yard and he turned around," Schubert said. "He didn't continue to flee. He turned around and he was in a shooting stance with his arms extended."
The District Attorney also claimed the two officers "honestly, without hesitation, believed he had a gun" before they fired 20 shots at Clark, at least seven of which struck him.
Clark was killed on March 18, 2018 after Sacramento police responded to a 911 call of a man breaking car windows in the neighborhood of Meadowview. Schubert says DNA evidence confirms Clark was the individual who broke the windows.
An autopsy commissioned by the family of Stephon Clark, the unarmed black man who was killed by the Sacramento police in his grandmother’s backyard, revealed the 22-year-old was shot eight times from behind or the side. Additionally, autopsy concluded that Clark died somewhere between three and ten minutes after being shot.
Benjamin Crump, the family’s lawyer, believes the findings of the report provide evidence that Clark was not charging at the officers or posing a threat.
“These findings from the independent autopsy contradict the police narrative that we’ve been told,” Crump said in a statement to the New York Times. “This independent autopsy affirms that Stephon was not a threat to police and was slain in another senseless police killing under increasingly questionable circumstances.”
Clark was shot at by police at least 20 times, and according to a private medical examiner, six of those bullets hit Clark in the back.
The Clark family lawyer hired Dr. Bennet Omalu, a private medical examiner, to conduct the independent autopsy.
According to Dr. Omalu, Clark was shot four times in the lower part of his back, twice in his neck, and once under an armpit. He was also shot in the leg.
“You could reasonably conclude that he received seven gunshot wounds from his back,” Dr. Omalu said at a news conference on Friday. He added that each of those seven shots could have had a “fatal capacity” and described severe damage to Mr. Clark’s body, including a shattered vertebrae and a collapsed lung.
The Police Department is investigating the shooting and assessing whether its officers violated any protocols. Chief Daniel Hahn requested assistance from the California Department of Justice earlier this week, headed by Attorney General Xavier Becerra, to join the investigation as an independent party.
Crump said he is expecting the authorities to push back on the findings of the independent autopsy report.
“Our autopsy has shown that he was shot repeatedly in the back — which is certainly not characteristic of someone menacing officers or preparing an imminent attack,” Crump said in a statement.
(Photo: Family of Stephon Clark)