Sacramento Taxpayers on Hook for $2.4 Million in ‘Partial’ City Payout for Stephon Clark Killing; Police Misdeeds Piling Up

By Crescenzo Vellucci
Vanguard Sacramento Bureau

SACRAMENTO – It’s literally next to impossible to keep up with the numbers of lawsuits against the city of Sacramento for police excessive force – but, city taxpayers continue to bleed money to pay for the misdeeds of their police officers, who, despite costing their bosses millions, remain on the job.

Just Thursday, the city of Sacramento confirmed it had agreed to pay the two young sons of Stephon Clark – an unarmed Black man shot by Sacramento Police officers in March of 2018 in his grandparents’ back yard – $2.4 million.

The killing, referred to as a “murder” by Black Lives Matter and other social justice activists, rocked Sacramento with protests for more than a year that blocked streets, freeways, and closed down Sacramento Kings NBA games.

But it’s only the beginning.

The $2.4 million for the Clark sons appears to be only for the two sons – the family filed a $35 million claim and a federal lawsuit for $20 million. Most of the lawsuit is yet to be litigated and could result in a cost of many more millions of dollars, a bill footed by taxpayers.

And, Sacramento city taxpayers have only begun to pay for the actions of their police – several other lawsuits are outstanding, including one to be filed by Sacramento civil rights attorney Mark Merin in the coming months.

Merin already has a pending class-action lawsuit for the unlawful arrest of 84 people, including clergy, news reporters and legal observers at the site of a demonstration March 4 against police brutality. The County District Attorney refused to file charges, leaving the city and the county of Sacramento liable for false arrest and related civil rights claims.

Phayjjon McClellan claims that city police officers slapped him around when he was being treated for serious injuries at UC Davis Medical Center – just a couple of days after Clark was gunned down by city officers.

The city reportedly admitted the teen was mistreated physically by officers in August in a letter signed by Sacramento police chief Daniel Hahn and internal affairs, setting the stage for Merin’s federal civil rights lawsuit.

The officers – Catricala and Lannom – were looking for information about a shooting. One or both grabbed McClellan’s cellphone, even though he refused to give it to them. That’s when McClellan was injured.

Guilty or not, the officers can’t lose their jobs because it took more than a year to conduct the investigation, although a claim was made within days of the incident in 2018, 17 months ago.

A promised federal civil rights suit awaits.

AND IN THE STEPHON CLARK PARTIAL SETTLEMENT, in what will probably not be his last comment about payoffs for police excessive force, Sacramento Mayor Darrell Steinberg said, in a statement released to the news media:

“I’m proud of the way our community responded to the tragic death of Stephon Clark. Residents engaged in peaceful protests to express their anger and grief. Our police department responded by adopting real change in crucial policies such as when to chase suspects on foot and when body-worn cameras must be activated. And the state of California responded by adopting a new use of force standard that will save lives. I know the Clark family will never stop mourning the loss of Stephon, but I am also proud of the way they have engaged as productive participants in the debate over how to make Sacramento a better city. I wish all the best for Stephon’s children.”

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Disclaimer: the views expressed by guest writers are strictly those of the author and may not reflect the views of the Vanguard, its editor, or its editorial board.

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  1. John Hobbs

    The death of Stephon at the hands of the police may have alerted some of the unaware to the way police have operated in minority neighborhoods for decades, but it has not effected “real change in crucial policies” If the money came out of the officers’  paychecks and from the operating budget of the department, that might make a difference, but the cops can just laugh at a settlement that doesn’t cost them a dime. It’s long past time to make the cops and their departments pay out of their own purse and to prosecute the cops who abuse and exceed their authority.

    1. Bill Marshall

      to prosecute the cops who abuse and exceed their authority.

      On this, we absolutely agree JH… I’d add, “working to discipline or/and weed out those officers who are constructively aware of that type of behavior, who ‘aid and/or abet'”…

      But I’m far from believing the majority of officers, much less all (at least in Davis, pretty much the limit of my ken), fit into either of those categories… we can just agree to disagree as to that.

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