By Sandy Malone and Christopher Berg
Sacramento, CA – Sacramento County District Attorney Anne Marie Schubert announced Saturday that the officers involved in the shooting of Stephon Clark would not be charged.
Schubert started her announcement stating that she wanted to make “an apology to the Clark family.”
“There is no question that the death of Stephon Clark is a tragedy not just for his family, but this community,” she said.
Schubert said that it was her office’s job to determine if a crime was committed in the shooting of Stephon Clark, and they determined that the officers did not commit a crime.
The decision came after an investigation by the Sacramento Police Department, an investigation by the California Department of Justice, and an expert consultant.
The incident that led to Clark’s death began when officers responded to a 911 call about someone breaking into cars at about 9:18 p.m. on March 18, 2018.
Schubert said that the investigation determined that the suspect who was reported has been confirmed to be Stephon Clark.
Upon arrival, officers found at least three cars that had their windows smashed in, and spoke to a neighbor who had confronted Clark with a baseball bat.
DNA and glass analysis now prove that Clark is the person who smashed the windows.
They were then notified that the police helicopter had spotted Clark in the backyard of a residence.
Clark appeared to be using a large object to break out the rear sliding glass door of the occupied home, deputies said. The entire sliding glass door was smashed, according to Schubert.
The helicopter and officers on the ground spotted Clark, 22, as he moved along the side of a house, later identified as his grandparents’ home.
The officers ordered Clark to show his hands and stop. Clark fled from officers into the backyard of the home.
Both officers pursued Clark, who then turned in a shooting stance and advanced towards officer with an object extended towards them. Clark advanced from about 30 feet away to being about 16 feet away from officers.
In the bodycam video, you could hear an officer yell, “Gun, gun, gun” as Clark took the shooting stance.
One of the officers later said that he saw a flash of light which he believed to be muzzle flash from a gun being fired. The bodycam captured the flash of light. The source of the light isn’t clear, but one of the officers said it may have been a reflection.
The object in Clark’s hand was later identified as a cell phone. A forensic examination of the phone show that Clark was not recording the officers at the time of the shooting.
The bodycam showed the officers talking immediately after the shooting, discussing if they were hit and how to safely remove what they believed to be a gun.
A toxicology report showed that Clark had alcohol, xanax, codeine, hydrocodone, marijuana, and cocaine metabolite in his blood.
Schubert explained that his toxicology report was relevant because it shows why Clark’s behavior may have been altered.
Investigators later determined that two days before the shooting, he had committed domestic violence assault involving the mother of his children. At the time of the shooting he was wanted for the domestic violence and a felony probation violation.
The mother of Clark’s children texted him that there was a warrant for his arrest and he was going to be locked up for the rest of his life.
Clark drafted an e-mail to law enforcement about the domestic violence and said that he was afraid he’d be put in jail.
He then searched over two dozen sites about how to commit suicide, which primarily focused on suicide by drug ingestion. Xanax and alcohol mixture was a combination which came up in his search results.
He then texted the mother of his children asking if she wanted him to kill himself and he sent her a picture of xanax pills and threatened to take them all.
Schubert said that her office determined that there was probable cause to stop Stephon Clark, and his flight didn’t remove their responsibility to stop him.
Under the laws directing officers’ use of force, police were justified in using deadly force against Clark, Schubert said.
Sacramento is now prepared for violent protests.
In the initial wake of the shooting, Black Lives Matter protesters shut down city streets and highways, and prevented sports fans from getting to games in the Sacramento arena.
Black Lives Matter protesters even showed up to harass one of the police officers involved in the Clark shooting as he ate lunch with his groomsmen on his wedding day.
Sacramento Police Chief Daniel Hahn asked the notoriously liberal state attorney general to conduct an independent review of the shooting to “help build faith and confidence” in the investigation not long after it happened, the Los Angeles Times reported.
Sacramento Mayor Darrell Steinberg recently gave his State of the City address and apologized to the Clark family, according to KOVR.
“I think that the mayor delivering the State of the City at the Pannell Center in South Sacramento was more than symbolic, it was substantively important,” Law Enforcement Accountability Directive Founder Mark Harris said. “It was the mayor shining the light of the city on South Sacramento, within blocks of where Stephon Clark was murdered.”
Steinberg has also dedicated $200 million for job programs and housing in low-income areas, including South Sacramento, KOVR reported.
Harris said that mayor’s efforts may help to diffuse violent protests in reaction to the charging decision.