CA Protests Killing of Unarmed Man 03/24 10:22
SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) -- The fatal shooting of an unarmed black man by
Sacramento police has roiled California's capital city, leading to a protest
that shut down a freeway and delayed an NBA game at the downtown arena. Stephon
Alonzo Clark, 22, died in a hail of police gunshots Sunday night in the
darkened backyard of the home where he had been staying with his grandparents.
Police say they thought he was pointing a handgun but they found only a
Here's what's known about the case --- and what's still unclear:
WHAT LED TO THE SHOOTING:
Sacramento police say two officers responded after 9 p.m. Sunday to reports
of an unidentified man breaking car windows. Deputies in a Sacramento County
Sheriff's Department helicopter said they spotted the suspect and reported that
he had picked up a toolbar and broken a window in a residence.
Two officers on the ground ordered the suspect to stop and show his hands,
but he ran into a backyard of his grandparent's home. Police say he turned and
advanced toward the officers while holding an object in front of him.
The officers believed it was a firearm and feared for their safety, the
department said. They fired 20 times.
The officers called for backup and waited about five minutes instead of
immediately providing medical aid. Video recordings released this week seem to
indicate they feared the suspect might still be armed and dangerous.
A responding officer told others to mute the microphones on their body
cameras. It's not clear why and the department hasn't said whether that
violated department policies.
Moreover, there is no evidence from the audio recordings that the officers
identified themselves as police, said civil rights and personal injury attorney
Ben Crump, who was retained by the Clark family.
THE FALLEN MAN AND THE OFFICERS:
Clark was the father of two sons, ages 1 and 3, and the fiance of Salena
"He was goofy, he was funny, he was loving. He liked shoes," brother
Stevante Clark told The Sacramento Bee . "He was a playboy, he was smart, he
was an athlete, he was charismatic."
Court records show he had several brushes with the law, none involving a
firearm. Since 2014 he pleaded no contest to felony robbery, misdemeanor
loitering with the intent to engage in prostitution and misdemeanor assault. He
was sentenced to probation, a sheriff's work program and was required to
complete a batterer's treatment program.
Sacramento police have declined to release the names of the officers
involved in the shooting, saying they've been receiving death threats.
Police say the officers, one of whom is white and the other black, have two
and four years of experience with the department, and both have four years of
prior law enforcement experience with other agencies. They are on paid
Crump is best known for representing the families of Trayvon Martin and
Michael Brown, both young black men shot to death in racially tinged incidents
in Florida and Missouri, respectively.
"We are looking into every aspect of this tragic killing, how this young man
was executed in his backyard, especially in light of the fact that he had no
gun," Crump said. "He made no threats against the police."
He said the police actions show poor training. He plans to meet with Clark's
family this weekend, and said the firm will do its own investigation including
an independent autopsy.
THE POLICE CHIEF:
Sacramento Police Chief Daniel Hahn, the city's first black police chief,
promised transparency and to work for better community relations since he took
charge last year. Mayor Darrell Steinberg praised Hahn for releasing the videos
within four days of the shooting instead of the 30 days required by city policy.
Steinberg said the department has improved its policies since the fatal
shooting of a mentally ill black man, Joseph Mann, in 2016. He said the City
Council will address some of the public's questions including the department's
use of force policies and training at a meeting April 10.