Sacramento, CA – Police have released more videos and 911 recordings from the night Stephon Clark was shot, including a 911 call from his grandfather reporting someone beating on his window.
On Monday, the Sacramento Police Department released video from an additional 23 dashcams, 28 bodycams, two 911 calls, and the rest of the video from the Sacramento County Sheriff’s Department helicopter that was over the scene at the time of the shooting, KCRA reported.
“The BWC and ICC videos contained in this release depict officers responding to the scene after the officer-involved shooting (OIS) occurred, and their activities upon arrival,” Sacramento police said in a statement, according to KCRA. “The time frame of this material is from when the officers begin their response to when the Sacramento Fire Department declares Mr. Clark deceased.”
The incident began when officers responded to a 911 call about someone breaking into cars at about 9:18 pm. on March 18.
Upon arrival, they found at least three cars that had been broken into, and were then notified that the police helicopter had spotted someone in the backyard of a residence.
The suspect, later identified as Clark, appeared to be using a “tool bar” to break out the rear sliding glass door of the occupied home, deputies said. Investigators later found a cinder block and a strip of aluminum lying near the broken glass.
Officers on the ground spotted Clark, 22, as he moved along the side of his grandparents’ home, and “gave the suspect commands to stop and show his hands,” police said, according to The Sacramento Bee. “[He] immediately fled from the officers and ran towards the back of the home.”
The officers pursued Clark, who then turned in a shooting stance with an object extended towards police.
In the first video that was released, you could hear an officer yell, “Gun, gun, gun” as Clark took the shooting stance.
“He looked back at our officers and faced them,” Sacramento Police Department (SPD) Sergeant Vance Chandler said, according to WGNO. “[He] had something, an object in his hand, and pointed it at our officers, and at that time our officers believed it was a firearm, and out of fear for their own lives they fired their service weapons.”
On Monday, police released 911 call recordings from the Clark’s grandfather and his grandparents’ next door neighbor that evening.
In the recording, a man believed to be Clark’s grandfather, Tommy Thompson, told the dispatcher that someone was in his backyard “beating on my window and I don’t know what’s going on,” KCRA reported.
The grandfather, who had lost both of his legs to complications with diabetes, told 911 that he couldn’t get out of bed to see who was beating on his window.
Police advised the man to stay inside until he was contacted by police, KCRA reported.
Family members later said relatives regularly knocked on the rear window so Thompson could use a remote garage door opener to let them into the house, but his reaction and recorded 911 call the night of the shooting indicated otherwise.
On Monday, police confirmed that the 911 call had, in fact, come from inside Clark’s grandparents’ home.
Police also released a recording of a 911 call received from Thompson’s next door neighbor reporting someone trying to break into his home, received just before the call from Clark’s grandfather.
There has been much criticism of officers who muted their bodycams in the first videos released by police three days after the shooting.
The new videos released on April 16 showed that at least three other bodycams had their microphones turned off after the shooting, KCRA reported.
That information may explain why Sacramento Police Chief Ken Bernard moved so quickly to implement a new directive that specified that officers must verbally announce why they are turning off their microphones.
The newly-released video footage also showed that officers waited five minutes after they fired their weapons at Clark before they approached his body to render aid over concerns that he still had a gun and could be an active threat, the Los Angeles Times reported.
The Los Angeles Times hired a use-of-force expert to review the footage, and he said their cautious approach after the shooting was not unusual.
“One officer says he cannot see the young man’s left hand on the ground,” Ed Obayashi, a Plumas County sheriff’s deputy and shooting expert, explained.
Obayashi said the officers thought Clark was playing possum, and may have been concerned about additional suspects in the area.
The expert explained that officers called for a less-lethal weapon because they had strength in numbers, the Los Angeles Times reported.
“If he pulls a gun, they can shoot. But if he pulls out a knife, they can use less lethal,” Obayaski said.
Sgt. Chandler said the department would be reviewing whether officers provided medical aid and muted their bodycams appropriately, the Los Angeles Times reported.
You can hear the 911 call from Clark’s grandfather in the video below: