Sac DA Feeling the Heat as Protestors Demand She Charge SPD Officers with Murder of Unarmed Stephon Clark

By Crescenzo Vellucci

SACRAMENTO  –  In just the 10 days since 22-year-old Stephon Clark was gunned down in Sacramento, riddled with bullets as police fired 20 rounds from just a few feet away – claiming they thought a white cell phone was a gun – the streets of Sacramento, from the State Capitol to City Hall to an NBA arena, have been full of demonstrators.

A sight not seen for about half a century here in this sleepy capital city.

Hundreds of demonstrators seeking justice have closed down two NBA basketball games at Golden 1, only allowing in a few thousand spectators in an arena that holds about 18,000. Protests have disrupted and ended a City Council meeting, shut down Interstate 5 for more than an hour, and closed numerous city streets on numerous occasions for more than a week in 5-8 hour hit-and-run protests.

And, Wednesday, protestors focused on Sacramento County District Attorney Anne Marie Schubert, the chief law enforcement officer in the county whose job it is to investigate, and charge, people with crimes.

Except Wednesday – and in a similar protest Tuesday and another one set for Thursday – she’s being asked to charge two City of Sacramento police officers with murder after they killed Clark in the backyard of his grandparents’ home, where he lived, shortly after 9 p.m. March 18.

Police first said it was a gun Clark was holding when they saw him during an investigation of someone breaking windows in the area. Then it was reported it was a “toolbar.” Finally, SPD admitted Clark was not holding any kind of weapon. Just that light-colored cell phone.

Video framed officers hiding behind a building and firing at Clark from near point-blank range.

The released body-camera and other footage showed officers muting their cameras, and not identifying themselves to Clark before they shot and killed him. They didn’t get anyone to help Clark for at least six minutes, and interviewed his family inside the house for hours before the family realized it was Clark, who lived there, who was dead in the backyard.

Schubert – up for reelection this June against one of her own deputy DAs – is in a pickle.

Known as a prosecutor somewhere almost right of U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions, Schubert once said she would not investigate alleged crimes by law enforcement. The few times she has, she’s not charged officers.

Not surprisingly, law enforcement feeds the coffers of her campaign war chest, which overflowed – more than a half million dollars were reported – in 2014 when she won the DA job. And Schubert depends on law enforcement to be her investigators and cohorts in prosecuting people.

Except for maybe cops – at least that is what Black Lives Matter and other groups have been saying, and why they sent about 200 people to her office Tuesday and another 150 Wednesday to pressure Schubert to file murder charges against the two officers who killed Stephon Clark.

But Schubert wasn’t home. The entire District Attorney office  responded to demonstrators chanting outside by locking their doors shortly after noon each of the last few days.

Some defense lawyers even reported that the DA asked judges to delay trials until the protests at her office wrap up Thursday. Lawyers said the DA might fear that the signs calling police officers “liars” and “killers” might influence jurors who otherwise may trust an officer’s testimony.

As the national media as well as local and regional media – there have been reporters from virtually every national news outlet, and routinely 10-20 television cameras follow demonstrators at the protests – swarm around the story, Schubert is feeling the heat.

Tuesday night, at a Sacramento City Council meeting, Schubert was scheduled to speak, but an impromptu protest erupted in the chambers – peaceful but loud – and Schubert literally ran from the scene, protected by bodyguards.

Certainly, Schubert is not used to the attention. Signs at the DA office protest ranged from “DA Schubert: Throw Her Out” to “Jail for SPD Murderers” and “Schubert: Justice Delayed is Justice Denied.”

Maybe Schubert will talk soon about her intentions. Until then, she’s as mum as a “lawyered-up” defendant.

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  1. Keith O

    Just curious as to how many of these protestors are local to the Sacramento area and how many have come from elsewhere and handed signs they didn’t make themselves?


      1. Keith O

        It mattered to David when he wrote an article about the out of towners who showed up to protest the Islamic Center at Central Park over the hate speech and downplayed their efforts.  I just wonder if the same applies here.

  2. John Hobbs

    Why would anyone need to be recruited from out of town? There are plenty of people who are outraged locally, as decent people should be. On topic, I don’t believe the two killers can be charged because they were in fear for there lives which gives cops the right to kill, whether that fear is reasonable or not. The best we can do is to close that loophole (wont happen) so future killers couldn’t claim fear as a defense and make damned sure that the two cops aren’t rehired by the next town down the line.(also won’t happen) Meanwhile, the community expresses its grief and umbrage in legal and appropriate ways.

    1. Howard P

      Hope the autopsies can figure out what the ‘kill shots’ were… 20 rounds fired at one man?  If not murder, they should at least be charged with desecrating a corpse.  A “double tap” by each officer only accounts for 20% of the shots fired.  Suspect that the man was “stopped”/dead/dying well before the fifth shot.

      Not clear there was a valid reason for the first shot.  I’m doubting it, at this point.

      1. Howard P

        Buscamonte was apprehended after a reign of terror… a bit more than ‘breakins’ (killing/murdering two peace officers).   He is alive, and will be probably for many years.  Stephon is dead.

        Too bad Buscamonte didn’t show a cellphone, at night… would have saved a lot of taxpayer dollars.

        Too bad the officers that took him into custody were not the responders for Stephon. Stephon could have at least answered the allegations.

      2. PhilColeman

        One of the technical aspects of the, 20-round discharge, is the magazine capacity of the weapons used. For example, if the service weapon had a 10-shot capacity, that means that both officers kept shooting until they could shoot no more.

        Not an unusual reaction once the first shot is fired, or heard. It’s survival-instinctive to panic shoot in a combat situation, even though the training dictates: shoot only until the suspect is disabled, or the direct threat is no longer present. Police firearms training in California is very good, but only so much can be done to artificially replicate the fear and horror of an actual combat situation.  A real combat shoot is very scary, beyond all anticipation or expectation.

        If the officers were in a sheltered defensive position at the time of confrontation as stated here, this notably diminishes the “fear of personal safety” argument. Regardless (and repeating again), naked fear alone is never justification for use of lethal force by a law enforcement officer.

        The precipitating event that lead to the police response was a report of vandalism. This is a low-grade misdemeanor. Use of potentially lethal force by law enforcement in a suspected misdemeanor, in NEVER justified. A question yet to be asked, but surely will, “Why were you running through back yards with your gun out, chasing somebody who MAY have been a misdemeanor offender, at best?”


        1. Ken A

          I know that “regular people” can only buy 10 round magazines in CA and can’t (legally) import new high capacity (over 10 round) magazines in to the state.  I’m wondering if Phil knows if it legal for typical (non SWAT) “law enforcement officers” to buy (and have on the job) newer (post ban) high capacity magazines (like a 15 round for a Glock or a 30 round for an AR 15).

          P.S. At the end of the day I hope this shooting makes more departments realize that it just is not worth it to risk anyone getting shot when chasing a guy who was speeding or breaking into cars.  I’m hoping that they will still chase a car bomber or school shooter in to a backyard, but with a guy who just ran a stop sign or stole an iPhone from a car I think we need to slow down and risk the guy getting away and hopefully have less people getting shot…

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