California AG won't bring charges against officers who shot Stephon Clark

Posted at 3:15 PM, Mar 05, 2019

Several days after Sacramento County declined to bring charges against two police officers who shot and killed Stephon Clark last year in his grandmother's backyard, California's top prosecutor announced a similar decision.

Police said they fired at Clark because they believed he was pointing a gun at them, but only a cellphone was found at the scene.

State Attorney General Xavier Becerra said Tuesday that his office conducted its own investigation and could not find evidence the officers acted illegally.

"There's a young man who's no longer alive, with two sons who won't have a father, whose mother I just met with, who's grieving. Of course it was a tough call They're all tough calls. It's never easy," he told reporters. "But we have to do the job before us."

The fatal shooting and the decisions of authorities not to charge the officers have prompted protests in the California capital.

Dozens of demonstrators bearing photos of Clark and holding Black Lives Matter signs were arrested Monday night. A total of 84 people were arrested and cited, police said.

Sacramento Police Capt. Norm Leong, who live-tweeted the protest, said the arrests were for unlawful assembly. He also said that five cars had been keyed during the demonstration.

The demonstrators blocked traffic on a well-traveled road for about five minutes, police said, and then marched down that road and through residential streets before police ordered them to leave.

Videos from the scene show a large group of police, including several mounted officers.

Sacramento Bee reporter Dale Kasler was also detained while covering the protest and was released after being held for about an hour, the paper reported .

Clark, who was unarmed, was shot seven times last March, including three times in the back, according to an autopsy released by the Sacramento County Coroner's Office. An independent autopsy found that Clark was shot eight times, with six of those wounds in his back, according to a forensic pathologist retained by Clark's family.

Authorities have said the two Sacramento officers who shot Clark on March 18, 2018, were responding to a report that a man had broken car windows and was hiding in a backyard. Police chased that man -- later identified as Clark -- who hopped a fence into his grandmother's property.

The killing sparked days of protests from activists who called for police accountability, part of the broader movement known as Black Lives Matter.

Decision not to charge

But on Saturday, Sacramento County District Attorney Anne Marie Schubert said that their investigation had to decide if officers broke the law.

"When we look at the facts and the law, and we follow our ethical responsibilities, the answer ... is no," Schubert told reporters, hours after meeting with the family.

In the news conference, Schubert described Clark as a 22-year-old man going through a tumultuous time in his life, worried about jail time after being accused of assaulting the mother of his children days earlier.

He also had drugs in his system on the night he was shot and had searched the web on his phone for information about how a person can take his own life.

Clark's mother, SeQuette, told reporters outside a family member's home in Sacramento that she was outraged by the decision not to charge the officers.

"They executed my son," she said. "They executed him in my mom's backyard and it's not right."

Jamilia Land, a friend of Clark's family and a member of CA Families United for Justice, said in a statement that no prosecutor's "ruling can change the most important fact -- Stephon should be alive."

"Stephon was unarmed and in no way a threat. Instead, they shot 20 times and hit Stephon at least eight times. Even then, they did not call for medical care even though he was bleeding profusely. Now the Sacramento district attorney says it's unjust to charge these officers with Stephon's murder. Where is Stephon's justice?"

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