Lack of charges for officers in Stephon Clark police killing sparks outrage

Cyril Josh Barker | 3/7/2019, 12:59 p.m.
Outrage continues in Sacramento, Calif., after the county district attorney did not charge the two police officers involved in the ...
Stephon Clark Contributed

Outrage continues in Sacramento, Calif., after the county district attorney did not charge the two police officers involved in the 2018 killing of Black, unarmed 22-year-old Stephon Clark.

Sacramento County District Attorney Anne Marie Schubert announced this week that her office would not be filing criminal charges against the officers. She said the officers had probable cause to stop and detain Clark and legally used deadly force.

“We ask our question that we started out with again, and that question is: was there a crime committed?” Schubert said. “When we look at the facts and the law, and when we follow our ethical responsibilities, the answer to that question is, no.”

California Attorney General Xavier Becerra announced Tuesday that the officer involved won’t be charged at the state level. He said the killing was justified because police believed Clark had a weapon.

“There’s a young man who’s no longer alive,” Becerra said. “Two sons who won’t have a father. Whose mother I just met is still grieving. Of course it was a tough call. These are all tough calls. It’s never easy.”

Clark was fatally shot by police March 18, 2018. Officer said they were chasing him during a foot pursuit. Police told Clark to stop and show his hands, but he ran into his grandmother’s backyard. They followed and yelled, “Show me your hands! Gun! Gun! Gun!” before shooting. Officers said Clark allegedly held an object that he “extended in front of him.” The object was determined to be a cellphone.

“I think that what would be most fair and just would be for the attorney general to come to the decision to prosecute the officers,” Stephon Clark’s mother, Sequette, said in one interview. “I think what would be right would be for the DA to be ousted. I think that it would be only right for her to not be in that position because she has shown that—time and time again—that she is not going to be just.”

In the wake of the news that the officer won’t be charged, protests reignited in Sacramento on Monday. Demonstrators marched in East Sacramento where police arrested 84 people. Reports indicate that protesters shut down an interstate and fans were blocked from attending the Sacramento Kings NBA game.

In an interview, Sacramento pastor Dr. Tecoy Porter Sr. of Genesis Church said there is unrest in the city and that people have lost faith in the justice system. His church is hosting a week of events later this month to commemorate one year since Clark’s death.

“The healing that was done throughout the year has been impacted by the decision,” he said. “This has not only torn up a family, it has torn up a community that was already struggling. We have been standing with the Clark family and making sure they have a voice.”