Man Gunned Down in Grandparents’ Back Yard – SPD Admits Victim Didn’t Have a Gun as Officers Believed
by Cres Vellucci
SACRAMENTO – Another day, another young Black man shot dead in Sacramento – but this time the victim of a police shooting here was in his grandparents’ own back yard and police admit now they were mistaken when they initially claimed he had a gun.
This was the message of a soft-spoken but vocal crowd of about 140 members of the community who gathered Monday night just a couple of blocks from the still cordoned off south area street where Sacramento Police Dept. officers gunned down 22-year-old Stephon Clark around 9 p.m. Sunday evening.
The Black Lives Matter Sacramento-sponsored prayer and protest featured appearances of family members, who told a horrific story of being interviewed by SPD officers for hours Sunday night – not knowing their family member had been killed – and then looking outside only to see his cold body lying in the back yard.
Police had little comment Monday night other than to say now that Clark was not armed with a gun, but with a “toolbar.” Officers – looking for a subject in
the area allegedly breaking windows – shot Clark at point blank range. Family said he was shot in the back four times.
“He was not attacking the officers; he was moving away. He stays in the home and our door bell hasn’t worked for years…he just goes to the back yard to enter,” said one family member Monday.
Some in the crowd wondered why, nearly 24 hours later, police were still at the scene of the killing. And some speculated it wasn’t to gather evidence, as police claimed, but to possibly “plant” evidence to frame Clark.
The two SPD officers responsible for the shooting are on routine administrative leave, but said they had been “in fear of their lives” – despite evidence now that there was no gun used by Clark. The “in fear of their lives” claim is a common phrase used by officers in shootings, because it’s the court’s standard for justifying officers to shoot suspects in suspicious circumstances.
Clark’s family members implored those attending the protest Monday night to “respect the family and remain peaceful.” However, they still criticized SPD’s handling of the shooting, and treatment of the family.
SPD body-cameras and a Sheriff’s helicopter footage should be made available, per Sacramento City Council new rules, within 30 days for the public.
Despite the crowd so close to the crime scene, SPD officers didn’t come close to the Monday protest, which ended abruptly with screams of “gun” and participants running for their cars and hastily leaving. There was no evidence of a weapon and discharge of one, according to this reporter who was on the scene.
NOTES 1: Coincidentally, Black Lives Matter Sacramento announced a Cop Watch program that would train citizens to monitor law enforcement in their neighborhoods, recording their names, badge numbers and interactions with the public. BLM promised more details later.
NOTES 2: Law enforcement has killed about 226 people so far in 2018, about three people a day. California leads with at least 27 killed – nationally about 24 percent of those killed by law enforcement are Black.