There Will Be No Charges In Sacramento Police Shooting Of Stephon Clark
Two Sacramento police officers will not face any criminal prosecution after shooting and killing an unarmed black man in his grandmother’s backyard last year, the Sacramento County district attorney announced on Saturday.
For almost a year, community members and activists have been demanding some sort of police accountability for the death of 22-year-old Stephon Clark, who was killed last March by Officers Terrence Mercadal and Jared Robinet. The police had initially been dispatched to investigate a routine vandalism complaint and somehow, within 10 minutes of their arrival, Clark was dead.
The shooting rightfully inspired waves of protests in Sacramento while Stephon’s death took on national significance amid the continuing discrimination by police in black neighborhoods and excessive use of force by those same police officers.
“Was a crime committed? There’s no question that a human being died,” District Attorney Anne Marie Schubert said on Saturday in Sacramento. “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.”
According to Schubert, the officers had probable cause to stop and detain Clark. She also added that police officers are legally justified in using deadly force “if the officer honestly and reasonably believes” he is in danger of death or injury. “We must recognize that they are often forced to make split-second decisions,” she continued. “We must also recognize that they are under tense, uncertain and rapidly evolving circumstances.”
At the time of the killing, officers fired their weapons a total of 20 times in Stephon Clark’s direction within seconds of him turning a blind corner. “Both officers believed that he was pointing a gun at them,” She said, adding that police video showed Stephon “advancing” on the officers.
But Clark was later found to be unarmed with only his cellphone found under his body. An autopsy released by the Sacramento County Coroner’s Office in May found at least seven bullets had hit Mr. Clark.