Sacramento, California, USA: Stephan Clark, 22, was waiting for a family member to open the door to his own home. According to Sacramento Police Department, Stephan Clark, was holding only his cellphone, in his own backyard, when he was fatally shot Sunday night by two Sacramento police officers who fired at him 20 times.
Department officials on Tuesday offered more details about what happened in the moments before Clark, 22, encountered officers in the backyard of the south Sacramento home where he was staying with his grandparents.
Police arrived at the 7500 block of 29th Street at about 9:18 p.m. Sunday, responding to a 911 call that a man was breaking into vehicles, according to the department. A Sacramento County Sheriff’s Department helicopter had also responded.
Deputies in the helicopter reported seeing a man armed with a “tool bar” in a nearby backyard and began to direct ground officers to that location.
The airborne deputies said they saw the man use the “tool bar” to break a window, which police later said was the rear sliding glass door in an occupied home on the 7500 block of 29th Street.
Police Tuesday said a cinder block and a piece of aluminum similar to what would be used in a rain gutter were recovered from near the broken door and taken into evidence, though neither item was definitely identified as the “tool bar” seen by deputies in the helicopter.
Police said that after seeing Clark break Wong’s window, the helicopter deputies observed him running south, where he jumped a fence into his grandparents’ yard adjacent to Wong’s house. He headed toward the front of the property, along the way looking into another car, police said.
On Tuesday, there was a black SUV and a gold Cadillac parked in Clark’s driveway.
Clark had been staying with his grandparents in that home on and off for more than a month, his family said. He had been released from county jail about a month earlier, said his brother, Stevante Clark.
Lashunda Britt, a cousin of Stephan Clark, said he was probably knocking on the window through the bars to alert his grandfather to use his remote to open the garage door when he was fatally shot by police on Sunday.
Clark’s family said their front doorbell was broken and family members would knock on the back window for entrance through the garage door.
Police entered the front yard of Clark’s grandparents’ house and saw him along the side of the house, according to the original department press release. Police said officers “gave the suspect commands to stop and show his hands,” but that he “immediately fled from the officers and ran towards the back of the home.”
It was there that police said they pursued Stephon Zoe Clark and where he “turned and advanced towards the officers while holding an object which was extended in front of him.”
Police said officers believed the object was a gun and fired, “fearing for their safety.”
No gun was found at the scene. Police later said that object was a cellphone. It was found near Clark’s body and taken into evidence.
Thompson, Clark’s grandmother, said the object was an iPhone. She said he was also found with a pair of headphones. Clark’s girlfriend, Salena Manni, said the phone Clark held belonged to her. She said it was an iPhone 6 Plus in a rose gold-colored case with a black holder on the back to carry items like credit cards.
Department spokesman Sgt. Vance Chandler said each of the two officers involved in the shooting fired 10 shots, for a total of 20 shots fired. Chandler said he did not know how many times Clark was hit.
Clark was pronounced dead at the scene by Fire Department responders.
The two officers involved in the shooting have two and four years with the Sacramento Police Department, and each has an additional four years experience with other agencies.
Chandler said the on-scene investigation had been concluded by Tuesday, but the overall investigation would take longer. Typically, reviews of such officer-involved police shootings take months before a final report is issued. The incident will be investigated by homicide detectives and internal affairs, as is protocol, within the department. The internal investigation will then be reviewed by the city’s Office of Public Safety Accountability, which will release a public report of its findings.
The Sacramento Police Department also released body cam footage of the shooting of Stephon Clark, an unarmed black man, in his grandparents’ backyard. This footage is from camera 1. The shooting occurs near the 7:40 mark.
Video of the incident was released, in compliance with a city policy enacted in 2016 after the officer-involved shooting of Joseph Mann in North Sacramento. That shooting prompted a series of police reforms that included requiring all patrol officers to wear body cameras and to receive increased training in de-escalation techniques.
Advocates in the African American community have voiced concerns over the shooting and how the department will respond to it.
Tuesday, a GoFundMe campaign had raised more than $4,000 for Clark’s burial. Clark leaves behind two sons, 3 and 1 years old.
“They’re asking, ‘Where’s Daddy, where’s Daddy?” said Manni, the mother of Clark’s children. “He was a part of our family. He was our rock.”
Our cover photo has Stephon Clark, his girlfriend Salena Manni, sons Aiden Clark, 3, and Cairo Clark, 1 which are displayed on a table inside his grandmother Sequita Thompson’s home. #BlackLivesMatter #ENOUGH #diversitymatters.
NAACP Verified account @NAACP: How many more mistakes have to happen before they get it right? Shot to death in your own backyard? Sleep peacefully #StephanClark his life mattered. Being armed with only a cell phone can cause you to lose your life.
ACLU Verified account @ACLU: We need nationwide accountability for the epidemic of police violence against Black people, transparency from the Sacramento Police Department, and justice for Stephon Clark.