Commentary: How Does One Take a Shooting Stance When You Have No Weapon?


The NFL ran a public service announcement about the killing of Stephon Clark as part of their anti-racism campaign. The PSA is narrated by Stephon’s mother, Se’Quette Clark.

Among other things, it notes that Clark’s death led to the passing of AB 392, which is California’s new use-of-force guidelines that put it among the forefront in the nation in terms of being the toughest in holding officers accountable.

In the PSA, she said, “As a mother, I can’t help the immense feeling of pride, knowing my son’s life will affect so many people for generations to come.”

“With sincerity and gratitude, I would like to thank Roc Nation and the NFL for choosing to honor the life of my son, Stephon Clark, who was unjustly stolen from us on March 18, 2018, by Sac PD officers Terrence Mercadal and Jared Robinet who are still employed and patrolling our streets,” Se’Quette Clark said in a news release last week.

“What the world lost was a living example of someone doing the right thing in their day-to-day life,” Se’Quette Clark says on the video.

So of course the California District Attorneys Association, that bastion of progressivism, is pushing back and asking the league to pull the video because they say it “misrepresents the facts” about Clark’s March 2018 shooting death at the hands of Sacramento police.

El Dorado County DA Vern Pierrson, the President of the CDAA and a strong opponent of reform efforts, said in part that he committed several crimes including car burglary, vandalism and an attempted residential burglary. Whenever someone gets shot and killed by police, their crimes are always used as justification—as though the fact that someone commits a crime justifies the authorities to conduct a de facto execution.

In a news conference on Wednesday, the family pushed back, disagreeing with the letter and saying it continues to “assassinate the character” of Stephon Clark.

“The District Attorney’s Office is trying to make a mockery and discredit my brother’s legacy,” Stevante Clark said. “This is not something that is new to us.

“It’s been a smear campaign from the start,” he added.

“Stephon’s PSA, his public service announcement, is the fifth one the NFL and Roc Nation have put out,” Se’Quette Clark said. “And in the history of them putting these out, no other district attorneys have contradicted, or attempted to assassinate, or have taken down these PSAs. What this shows to me is that they’re afraid of the truth coming out.”

We see this all the time. DAs and police departments consistently attempt to justify their actions through character association—bringing in past misdeeds or crimes as though that justifies the use of deadly force.

But what really caught my attention was this: “Mr. Clark was running from officers when he entered the backyard of his grandmother and took a shooting stance and advanced on officers who believed he had a gun.”

Notice the language: “shooting stance.”

Remember the statement by the Police Officer’s Association in Vallejo on the death of Sean Monterrosa.

The POA, led by President Micheal Nichelini, put out a press release dated June 5 in which they describe Monterrosa as “attempting to flee with others in a vehicle” and then, instead of continuing his escape, he “chose to engage the responding officers.”

As described by the POA: “Mr. Monterrosa abruptly pivoted back around toward the officers, crouched into a tactical shooting position, and grabbed an object in his waistband that appeared to be the butt of a handgun. At no time did Mr. Monterrosa make any movements consistent with surrendering. Fearing that Mr. Monterrosa was about to open fire on the officers in the vehicle, the officer was forced to fire multiple rounds through his windshield.”

So Stephon Clark took a “shooting stance” and Sean Monterrosa took a “tactical shooting position.”

In the Stephon Clark case, he had a cell phone. In Sean Monterrosa’s case he had a hammer. In neither case did they have a weapon with which to take a shooting position.

Clearly no rational person when facing the cops without an actual weapon is going to take a shooting stance.

Now perhaps it is true that the police didn’t know that they weren’t armed with guns.

But the question we must ask is whether the police are misreading these movements, or offering up a questionable ad hoc justification for using lethal force?

As John Burris pointed out, the POA position “doesn’t make any sense. As he pointed out, “he didn’t have anything,” so why would he grab an object in his waistband that was not a firearm and simulate as though he were about to open fire?

—David M. Greenwald reporting

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About The Author

David Greenwald is the founder, editor, and executive director of the Davis Vanguard. He founded the Vanguard in 2006. David Greenwald moved to Davis in 1996 to attend Graduate School at UC Davis in Political Science. He lives in South Davis with his wife Cecilia Escamilla Greenwald and three children.

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5 thoughts on “Commentary: How Does One Take a Shooting Stance When You Have No Weapon?”

  1. David Greenwald Post author

    Some of the progressive DA’s responded…

    Today, San Francisco District Attorney Chesa Boudin, former District Attorney George Gascón, and San Joaquin County District Attorney Tori Verber Salazar issued a joint statement in response to the California District Attorney Association’s (CDAA) attempts to pressure the National Football League into pulling a public service announcement giving a voice to the family of Stephon Clark. The PSA is part of the NFL’s multi-million dollar anti-racism campaign. 

    Stephon Clark was killed by police in a controversial police shooting in Sacramento in 2018.  That shooting led the legislature to pass A.B. 392 which limited the circumstances in which police could use lethal force. 

    In response to CDAA’s letter, DAs Boudin, Gascón, and Salazar said: 

    “Prosecutors take an oath to seek justice and give victims a voice, and that makes CDAA’s attempts to silence the family members of those touched by police violence particularly harmful and troubling. The National Football League has taken steps to foster awareness and dialogue on an immensely important, painful, and difficult topic at a time when reform is the consensus position, and at a time when trust in law enforcement is at a low. In order to restore faith in law enforcement, build bridges, and enhance safety in our communities–and for the many officers that patrol them–this is a conversation that we must have. We urge the NFL to continue its public education and applaud it for giving these victims a voice.”

    1. Alan Miller

      issued . . .  in response to . . . attempts to pressure . . . into pulling . . . giving a voice . . .

      I had to reread that four times.

      Link to the ad?  Hard to know what they are objecting to without seeing it.

  2. Bill Marshall

    In Sean Monterrosa’s case he had a hammer. In neither case did they have a weapon with which to take a shooting position.

    A hammer can be a weapon… ask Dr Corbett, UCD Med Center, a number of years back… don’t know if he ever fully recovered…

    Clearly no rational person when facing the cops without an actual weapon is going to take a shooting stance.

    Three assumptions… whether the deceased was rational, at the time; hammer can be an actual weapon, even if not a firearm; “shooting stance”… ‘shooting stance’ appears to never be known (and probably rationality), because Vallejo PD likely murdered him, then destroyed evidence… and an individual…

    1. Alan Miller

      How Does One Take a Shooting Stance When You Have No Weapon?


      In neither case did they have a weapon with which to take a shooting position.

      In yoga there are positions Warrior I, Warrior II and Warrior III; in yoga, none involved swords.

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