July 6th: Stephon Clark

Stephon Clark
August 10, 1995 – March 18, 2018

 March 18, 2018:

Stephon Clark, a father of two, was shot and killed in Sacramento CA, by two officers with the Sacramento PD. This all took place in the backyard of his grandmother’s house while he had a phone in his hand. He was on probation for domestic dispute at the time.

2 days prior, Clark had been in a physical domestic dispute with Salena Manni, the mother of his 2 children, and was trying to call her. Manni had sent texts telling him that he would be sent back to prison for the domestic incident and that he would not see his children for a long time. Clark also texted other ex-girlfriends seeking drugs, as well as texting Manni that he was going to commit suicide. An examination of his internet search history also showed that he had been researching websites about suicide.

Police officers were responding to a 911 call that a man wearing a black hoodie was breaking car windows in a Sacramento neighborhood. The police helicopter said they saw the suspect break the door and then jump the fence into another property. The air unit directed the officers on the ground to Clark’s location. When they ran around the corner of the house to confront Clark they said they saw him face them and “advance forward with his arms extended and holding an object in his hands.”

At the time, the officers believed the suspect was pointing a firearm at them.

The two officers gave Clark four seconds to comply with their commands before they fired 5 shots. A few seconds later, they fired 15 shots. It all happened in 23 seconds. killing him in the backyard. The officers in the video began saying Clark “had a gun” then “gun! gun! gun!” seven seconds into barging into the backyard. Four seconds later, the officers started shooting.

Video shows a round of gunfire from police and Clark going to the ground on his hands and knees. He puts his legs together and appears to be complying with the officers when the 15 more shots were fired as he lay on the ground. Autopsy analysis says he sustained a shot to his leg while standing and the remaining 6 shots while on the ground and in the upper back.

Immediately after the shooting, the officers are heard on audio talking to each other or yelling at Clark to show his hands. 2 minutes after the shooting more officers arrive and discuss needing a body shield before approaching the unresponsive Clark. 3 minutes later they identify themselves as officers. Nearly 5 minutes after the shooting the officer’s finally approach him, they find there was no gun, only a cell phone.

The officer lets out an expletive.

6 minutes after the shooting the newly arrived officers begin administering CPR. Clark is pronounced dead at the scene.

Officers Mercadal and Robinet step away from the scene and turn the audio off.

Police officers knock on the front door to inform Stephon’s grandmother that someone had attempted to break into the house and had been killed. They tell her that her backyard is a crime scene, she asks if the suspect is black and then pleads for them to tell her that it’s not her grandson.

The officers:
Terrence Mercadal and Jared Robinet, were not be charged by the Sacramento county district attorney’s office.

According to the district attorney, Anne Marie Schubert, the officers were justified in using lethal force and did not commit a crime. Schubert has investigated more than 30 police shootings since January 2015 and has never filed charges according to the Sacramento Bee.

The Findings:
According to an autopsy released by the Sacramento County Coroner’s Office Clark was shot seven times, including three times in the back.
According to an independent autopsy he was shot eight times, with six of those wounds in his back. 

San Joaquin County forensic pathologist Dr. Bennet Omalu found a total of eight gunshot wounds on Clark’s body. Six of the bullets entered in his back, a seventh gunshot wound was slightly to the side of his body but towards the back. “You can reasonably conclude he received seven gunshot wounds from his back,” Omalu said. “During the entire interaction, he had his back to the officers, not his front.

He said his findings indicate Clark was not facing the officers when he was shot.

It took him up to 10 minutes to die.

What changed:
A bill was passed that opened officer misconduct records to the public.
April 2018: An emergency order was issued in requiring police officers to keep their body cameras and audio recording equipment activated in all cases
July 2018: the Police Department adopted a new policy that requires officers to assess both the danger to themselves and the public when pursuing a suspect on foot, as well as the importance of apprehending the suspect
In September 2019, the city settled a wrongful death lawsuit for $2.4 million; each of Clark’s son will receive $900,000 tax-free when they turn 22
June 2020: Stephon Clark’s brother Sevante Clark, 27, is emerging as the leader of a bellwether of grief for a young generation already tired of hurting and desperately in need of hope from someone who feels authentic and shares their grief over the need for police reform. He has had several brushes with police over the last two years but is gaining a following and seemingly is a voice of calm in Sacramento following the death of George Floyd.

#thisiswhytheymarch #SayHisName | #BlackLivesMatter

Sacramento’s mayor: “Residents engaged in peaceful protest to express their anger and grief,” Mr. Steinberg said. “Our Police Department responded by adopting real change in crucial policies such as when to chase suspects on foot and when body-worn cameras must be activated. And the state of California responded by adopting a new use of force standard that will save lives.”

“If you disrespect the legacy of George Floyd, you are disrespecting the legacy of my brother,” Stephon Clark yelled to protesters in Sacramento, his voice strained to a whisper from earlier protests. “And I will not allow that.” By 10 p.m., Clark had ordered protesters to make the area a “ghost town” rather than fall into what he described as the “trap” of massive law enforcement presence.


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