Officers won't be charged in shooting, killing of Stephon Clark in Sacramento

3 weeks ago
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March 2 (UPI) — Two police officers who shot and killed an unarmed man won’t be charged, the Sacramento County District Attorney’s Office said Saturday afternoon.

District Attorney Anne Marie Schubert said she talked to Stephon Clark’s family in the morning before the news conference.

“When we look at all of these facts and circumstances, we look at all of it, everything. We ask our question that we started out with again. And that question is: Was a crime committed? And, there’s no question that a human being died,” Schubert said. “But, when we look at the facts and the law, and we follow our ethical responsibilities, the answer to that question is no. And as a result, we will not charge these officers with any criminal liability related to the shooting death and use of force on Stephon Clark.”

O March 18, 2018, the 22-year-old black man was standing in his grandmother’s yard when the Sacramento officers, one black and one white, responded to a vandalism call. Police said he refused orders to drop his cellphone, which the officers mistook for a weapon.

Clark was shot seven times and at least three of the shots hit him in the back, according to the findings of an autopsy conducted by the Sacramento County Coroner’s Office that was released last May 1.

Schubert said the evidence — including video of the scene — showed that Clark was advancing on two officers, Terrance Mercadal and Jared Robinet, and was in a shooting posture when they opened fire.

The officers said a light that appeared to be a flash from the muzzle of the gun or light reflecting off a firearm.

“We must recognize that they are often forced to make split-second decisions and we must recognize that they are under tense, uncertain and rapidly evolving circumstances,” Schubert said.

It turned out Clark was carrying a cellphone and no gun.

“Clearly we all know he didn’t have a gun,” Schubert said. “But the officers didn’t know that.”

And video from a sheriff’s department surveillance helicopter showed Clark jumping a fence into the yard moments. In addition, police were also not aware then that he had entered his grandmother’s yard.

“The evidence in this case demonstrates that both officers had an honest and reasonable belief that they were in imminent danger of death or great bodily injury,” Schubert wrote in a seven-page summary that accompanied the report. “Therefore, the shooting of Mr. Clark was lawful and no criminal charges will be filed.”

The California Attorney General’s Office joined the investigation about a week after Clark’s death.

Protests and rallies disrupted traffic and blocked access to NBA basketball games.

After Schubert’s news conference, Clark’s mother criticized the prosecutor’s decision.

“My faith in the justice system is what it has been: It’s not for us — it’s not for the black community,” Sequette Clark told KCRA-TV outside her home. “It’s what they’ve shown us time and time again. That’s about it. I feel like, shame on the DA, shame on her. I know she will not sleep well at night — she can’t. The video that my sons, my family, has watched. They said it looks different from the first video. I don’t know if there’s any truth to that. I just know that it’s just not right — and no justice, no peace.”

Clark’s family filed a wrongful death lawsuit and is seeking more than $ 20 million in damages against the two police officers and the city of Sacramento. The suit, filed Jan. 28, alleges officers racially profiled and used excessive force in shooting Clark.

Black Lives Matter Sacramento, which scheduled a protest from 1-5 p.m. PST, posted on Twitter: “”MURDER IS MURDER! Stephon was stolen from his family! THERE ARE NO EXCUSES! WE DEMAND JUSTICE!!!! COME THRU NOW!!!!”

And Rev. Al Sharpton, who delivered a eulogy at Clark’s funeral, posted on Twitter it is an “outrage!!” that the officers won’t be charged.

“We must stand w/ Stephon Clark ‘s family and pursue justice. This young man’s life should not be marked worthless. Where’s accountability,” he tweeted.

Sacramento Mayor Darrel Steinberg tweeted: “I’m proud of the community leadership in @TheCityofSac for their heartfelt examination in recent weeks of how we can have both peace and justice.”

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