Sacramento, California, USA: “You don’t tell people in pain how to handle their pain. You don’t tell people when you kill their loved one how to grieve. We came because this boy should be alive today. It’s time to stop the madness. We will never let you forget the name of Stephon Clark until we get justice. This is about justice. I want the folk in California to know there is nothing wrong with the way these young people are standing up. They are trying to express their pain. We got their back!” Civil rights activist Reverend Al Sharpton said today as he delivered the eulogy, at the funeral of Stephon Clark, the 22-year-old Sacramento man whose shooting death in his bckyard by police, March 18th, has sparked protests and calls for justice.
Clark’s brother Stevante Clark hurried to the front of the church after the opening prayers and and threw himself on the casket, embracing it, as performers danced. The Rev. Al Sharpton and others hugged him and talked to him on the alter, attempting to calm him.
Clark’s casket had been delivered to the church in a white hearse, then set on the alter amid flowers, one heart-shaped floral display wrapped with a sash with lettering saying “Rest in Power.”
His brother, who has been participating in some of the street protests that have hit the city since the killing, grabbed the microphone from Alice Huffman of the California NAACP, shouting to the audience, “Louder! Louder!” as some in the group chanted his brother’s name, then shouting, “The Clark family will never die!”
Stephon Clark was shot and killed by Sacramento police in the backyard of his grandmother’s house just before 9:30 p.m. on March 18.
Clark was the father of two sons, Aiden, 3, and Cairo, 1, with partner Salena Manni. A memorial service handout described Clark as a former David Reese Elementary School and Sacramento High School student, known to family as “Big Poppa” who was “taken from us far too early.”
While some friends and family spoke about Clark, one saying, “all he ever wanted to be was a great dad,” much of the service and comments afterward were focused on the political and social implications of Clark’s death.
Berkeley Imam Zaid Shakir, who also spoke at Muhammad Ali’s 2016 funeral, challenged the Trump administration’s statement earlier this week that the Clark shooting was “a local issue.”
He listed more than 20 people who have been killed nationally in gunfire the last few years, many at the hands of police.
“That is a systemic problem! Not a local problem. Not a Sacramento problem. It is a uniquely American problem.”
He said the American heart is diseased and needs to be cured, “so we recognize every one of us is our brother or our sister, black, brown, white … if you have some polka dot people, they are our brothers and sisters.”
Sharpton also said the Clark killing is a national issue, even if Trump has been “on mute,” just as several police officers did on their recorders in the minutes after Clark was shot.
Florida-based civil rights attorney Benjamin Crump is representing the Clark family and has indicated he is looking at filing a lawsuit against Sacramento police. Crump also represented the family of Trayvon Martin, a teen who was gunned down by a neighborhood resident, and the family of 18-year-old Michael Brown, who was shot and killed by a Ferguson, Mo., police officer.
Basketball team officials, who have expressed sympathy for the Clark family and respect for nonviolent protests, on Thursday announced the Kings are teaming up with the Black Lives Matter movement to provide college funds for Clark’s two children and to push an initiative to improve lives of black youths, including supporting education and economic development.
EARLIER: Sacramento Says Farewell To Stephon Clark Today As Family Await Justice – A funeral for Stephon Clark – the 22-year-old black man fatally shot 20 times by two Sacramento police officers as he waited for a family member to open the door to his own home – begins at 11 a.m. PDT today, Thursday at Bayside of South Sacramento church. The eulogy will be delivered by the Reverend Al Sharpton. Other Speakers include Imam Zaid Shakir and Sheik Omar Suleiman.
Stephon Clark died in a hail of Police bullets in front of his grandmother in his own backyard. Then they handcuffed Stephon Clark’s lifeless body after shooting him 20 times. Stephon Clark was a Muslim. His body was too dismembered to the point where they were not able to do ghusul (ritual Islamic washing) on his corpse.
Sacramento police has called the killing a mistake even as the family of the victim seek justice for Stephon Clark. Sacramento Mayor Darrell Steinberg said previously he would not second guess officers on their decision to shoot, but later said Clark’s shooting was “just plain wrong.”
Protests have continued for days in the California capital following the March 18 shooting, in which Clark was shot standing in his grandmother’s yard. Officers responding to a call about a car vandal said they believed the cellphone in his hand was a weapon.
At 3 p.m., protests are expected in front of the district attorney’s office in Sacramento as hundreds of demonstrators express anger over the killing, demanding the officers be fired and prosecuted.
Other protests of Clark’s death have been held in San Diego, Portland, Oregon, and Watertown, Massachusetts, with more scheduled across the country.
The man’s death sparked outrage — and numerous demonstrations in Sacramento that blocked roadways, interrupted a meeting at City Hall and confronted thousands of fans from entering Sacramento Kings basketball games.
During a meeting at Sacramento City Hall Tuesday night, the victim’s brother Stevante Clark jumped on top of a table in front of councilors and and chanted his brother’s name. He then directed the crowd to do the same, and to raise their cellphone and ask the council if it resembled a gun.
Mayor Steinberg adjourned the meeting and later tweeted that council meetings would resume after Clark’s funeral Thursday.
With the case spreading nationally, White House spokesman Sarah Sanders said Wednesday Clark’s death was “a terrible incident,” but called it “a local matter.”
EARLIER: Stephan Clark: Police Shot 20 Times Killing Unarmed Black Man With Cell Phone In His Backyard – 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.