Seconds after they arrived at Stephon Clark’s home on Sunday (March 18), two Sacramento Police Department officers fired 20 shots at the 22-year-old Black man’s, hitting him with eight bullets. They said he had a gun, but as a search of the yard after the shooting proved, Clark was holding a phone as he stood in the backyard. As The Sacramento Bee reports, the officers were responding to a call about a person breaking car windows nearby. They left Clark (whom some family members referred to as Stephan) on the ground outside the home he shared with his grandparents for five minutes before providing medical care.
From the police department’s Monday (March 19) account of the shooting:
Officers pursued the suspect and located him in the backyard of the residence. The suspect turned and advanced towards the officers while holding an object which was extended in front of him. The officers believed the suspect was pointing a firearm at them. Fearing for their safety, the officers fired their duty weapons striking the suspect multiple times. The involved officers held their position for approximately five minutes, until additional officers arrived. Officers approached the suspect, handcuffed him and began life saving efforts. The suspect was pronounced deceased at the scene by fire personnel…. As part of the department’s protocol, this incident is being investigated in conjunction with the Sacramento County District Attorney’s Office, the Sacramento City Attorney’s Office and the City’s Office of Public Safety Accountability.
After watching the video, Clark’s family says the police mishandled the situation. From The Sacramento Bee:
[Pastor and social activist Les] Simmons and Clark’s aunt, Saquoia Durham, said after viewing the videos that they believe the fatality could have been avoided.
"As soon as they did the command, they started shooting. They said ‘put your hands up, gun’ and then they just let loose on my nephew,” said Durham.
“They didn’t give him a chance to put his hands up or anything, and then when they shot him down, they knew they messed up,” she said.
The officers, whose identities have not been released as of press time, are on paid administrative leave pending the outcome of the investigation.
Per The Washington Post‘s deadly police force database, Clark is the 38th Black person killed by American police this year; the total number of people killed by police in 2018 currently sits at 232.
*Note: Update to reflect the number of bullets that struck Clark’s body.