Police officers searching for a suspect who was seen breaking car windows in a Sacramento neighborhood on Sunday shot and killed an unarmed black man in his own backyard.
Friends and family said the victim of the officer-involved shooting was 22-year-old Stephon Alonzo ‘Zoe’ Clark, a father-of-two who was living with his grandmother, grandfather and siblings.
Police said they shot and killed him because he was walking towards them holding an object, which they believed was a gun, and feared for their safety.
Investigators only found a cell phone near his body after he was gunned down.
Dozens of people carrying signs and calling for police accountability took to the streets on Monday night to protest Clark’s shooting.
Police officers searching for a suspect who was seen breaking car windows in a Sacramento shot dead Stephon Clark. The 22-year-old father of two boys died in his grandmother’s backyard
The officer-involved shooting took place in the 7500 block of 29th Street of Sacramento on Sunday night
The man’s aunt, Shernita Crosby, took part in the march organized by Black Lives Matter activists and told CBS13 she was ‘mad as hell.’
According to a press release from the Sacramento Police Department addressing the fatal shooting, officers were called to the home at 9.18pm on Sunday after getting reports of a man breaking into vehicles.
This press release is a summary of the facts known at this time. This is an active investigation. The information provided in this press release is preliminary and subject to change. Additional details will be released as they become available.
The caller who summoned police said the male subject had broken car windows and was now hiding in a backyard. The suspect was described as a thin 6-foot-1 man wearing a black hoodie and dark pants.
The Sacramento Sheriff’s Department’s helicopter (STAR) was also on scene searching for the suspect.
At about 9.25pm, the helicopter crew communicated that they spotted the suspect, later identified as Clark, in a backyard and directed police officers to his location.
STAR then advised police that Clark had just picked up a ‘toolbar’ and broke a window to a residence, before running south towards the front of the residence, where he stopped and was looking into another car.
Police said officers commanded Clark to show his hands, and ultimately shot him out of fear for their safety because they mistakenly thought he was pointing a gun at them
Clark is pictured in this undated photo with his mother, who had lost another son to violence
The chopper crew continued to update the officers and guided them to the suspect in the backyard.
According to the news release, officers entered the front yard and observed Clark along the side of the residence. The ordered him to stop and show his hands.
‘The suspect immediately fled from the officers and ran towards the back of the home,’ the statement read.
Officers pursued Clark and tracked him to the backyard of his family’s home. There, police say the 22-year-old ‘turned and advanced towards the officers while holding an object which was extended in front of him,’ and which they mistook for a firearm being pointed at them.
‘Fearing for their safety, the officers fired their duty weapons striking the suspect multiple times,’ police stated.
Five minutes later, backup arrived and Clark was placed in handcuffs before officers began life-saving efforts. He was pronounced dead at the scene.
His grandmother Sequita Thompson was at home that night and heard the gunshots. She said when police interviewed her, they made no mention of any fatalities.
She recounted to Sacramento Bee how she looked out the window a few hours later and saw her grandson lying dead in the yard.
No gun and no ‘toolbar’ was ever found, but police recovered a cellphone next to Clark.
Dozens of people carrying signs and calling for police accountability took to the streets on Monday night to protest Clark’s shooting
‘Mad as hell’: Clark’s aunt Shernita Crosby joined protesters on Monday, saying she was mad
A boy is seen at Monday’s protest holding up a large sign demanding ‘No more racist cops’
Relatives of Clark are seen embracing his grieving mother (center) at the protest in Sacramento on Monday
Police later identified at least three vehicles in the area with damage that is believed to have been caused by Clark. A nearby home also had had a sliding door shattered.
The two officers who shot Clark have two and four years with the Sacramento Police Department. However, both have four years prior law enforcement experience with other agencies.
As per department policy, both cops have been placed on paid administrative leave pending an investigation.
Both officers were equipped with body cameras. There is also video and audio footage from the STAR helicopter that assisted on the call.
The police department is expected to release all the relevant footage within 30 days.
Clark leaves behind his two young sons, ages one and three, reported Fox40. His brother Stevante said the family wish to lay him to rest next to his other sibling who was killed a few years ago.
A GoFundMe campaign has been launched by a friend to help the family with Clark’s funeral expenses