Date: March 18, 2018
Officer: Jared Robinet and Terrence Mercadal
Charged: No criminal charges filed
Stephon Clark was in his hometown, Sacramento, California, on March 18, 2018, when police responded to a 911 call reporting a man in a black hoodie breaking car windows and hiding in a backyard. Officers Jared Robinet and Terrence Mercadal arrived at the scene and searched nearby houses before finding Clark and pursuing him into his grandmother’s backyard. The officers yelled at Clark to show them his hands. Officer Mercadal said, "... At which time I looked and based on the light coming off of ... my tactical light -- it appeared I thought that he had already shot at me because I saw what I believed to be a metallic reflection or muzzle flash -- something coming at me...I was scared. I thought that he had shot at me. I think I remember yelling, 'Gun.'" The officers say that Clark then continued to “advance forward with his arms extended and holding an object in his hands.” Helicopter footage shows Clark moving towards the officers, and at least one of the shots sends him to his hands and knees, then the rest of the shots that hit his body were in this position. Clark laid motionless on his stomach when officers asked him if he was okay and unarmed before approaching him, but he was unable to respond. Police waited five minutes after the shots were fired before approaching his body. Six minutes after the shots, first responders began administering chest compressions. When they flipped Clark’s body over, they recovered his white iPhone. Clark died at the scene. He was 22 years old.
The official coroner’s report concluded that Clark was shot seven times, but an independent autopsy ordered by Clark’s family reports that Clark was shot eight times, six of which were in his back. DNA evidence later showed that Clark was in fact the person breaking the windows, but his mother says, “What matters is how those officers came with lethal force around a corner, on a vandalism call, after my son and gunned him down — when he had nothing but a cellphone in his hand.” Clark’s family filed a $20 million lawsuit against the City of Sacramento in January 2019. The lawsuit claims that the officers violated Clark’s constitutional rights and were negligent because they failed to identify themselves as police before using deadly force.
Nearly a year after the shooting death of Stephon Clark, the investigation into the death concluded and Sacramento County District Attorney Anne Marie Schubert released her report to the public. She said that she wouldn’t pursue any criminal charges against the officers because their actions were justified. She revealed that a couple of days before his death, his girlfriend, Salena Manni, called the police to report domestic abuse. Investigators also found text messages on Clark’s cellphone that he sent to Manni indicating that he wanted to kill himself. During her own press conference, Manni said that the DA didn’t warn her about the revelation of the text messages and personal information on Clark’s cellphone. She shared that she was angered by their actions. Although there were questions about “suicide by cop,” the police didn’t know Clark’s motives nor did they know exactly who the man in the black hoodie was.
California Legislators have since introduced AB 392, which is a bill that would change police use-of-force procedures.
Fracassa, D. (2019, March 04). Stephon Clark's family pledges to seek justice after Sacramento police are cleared in shooting. Retrieved from https://www.sfchronicle.com/bayarea/article/Stephon-Clark-s-family-vows-to-pursue-justice-13659878.php
Hagan, C., Miller, N., Adler, B., Caiola, S., Moffitt, B., Romero, E. D., & Zentner, E. (2019, March 02). No Criminal Charges For Sacramento Police Officers Who Fatally Shot Stephon Clark. Retrieved from https://www.npr.org/2019/03/02/699719214/officers-in-stephon-clark-shooting-wont-be-charged-says-sacramento-d-a
Inskeep, S. (2019, March 06). Stephon Clark Shooting: 'Officers Followed Their Training,' Police Association Says. Retrieved from https://www.npr.org/2019/03/06/700639990/officers-who-shot-stephon-clark-will-not-face-criminal-charges-california-ag-say
Karimi, F. (2019, March 07). Officers who killed Stephon Clark reveal new details about the night he died. Retrieved from https://www.cnn.com/2019/03/07/us/sacramento-stephon-clark-shooting/index.html
LA Times Staff. (2019, March 02). Stephon Clark killing still resonates even though cops won't face criminal charges. Retrieved from https://www.latimes.com/local/lanow/la-me-stephon-clark-explainer-police-sacramento-20190302-story.html
Teague, C., & Wang, A. B. (2019, March 02). Sacramento police officers who fatally shot Stephon Clark will not be charged, prosecutor says. Retrieved from https://www.washingtonpost.com/nation/2019/03/02/sacramento-police-officers-who-fatally-shot-stephon-clark-will-not-be-charged-prosecutor-says/?noredirect=on&utm_term=.9f5ac4e7ac35