Police officers in Sacramento shot an unarmed black man 20 times, killing him, when he turned out to be holding only a cellphone in his grandparents’ backyard over the weekend.
According to the city’s police department, 22-year-old Stephan Clark was spotted breaking vehicle windows Sunday night. Sheriff’s deputies in a helicopter say they also saw him shattered a neighbor’s sliding glass door.
Two arriving officers chased him into the backyard of his grandparents’ home, where he was staying. The department said ‘fearing for their safety,’ the pursuing officers opened fire when Clark pointed what they thought was a handgun. No gun was found.
Police officers searching for a suspect who was seen breaking car windows in a Sacramento shot dead Stephan 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
Sequita Thompson recounts the horror of seeing her grandson Stephan Clark dead in her backyard and points to the white area on the patio where he lay dead
Investigators only found a cell phone near his body after he was gunned down.
Clark’s grandmother, Sequita Thompson, questioned the officers’ decision to fire at the young father-of-two while he was in his own backyard. She told The Sacramento Bee , ‘they didn’t have to do that.’
Dozens of people carrying signs and calling for police accountability took to the streets on Monday night to protest Clark’s shooting.
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.
Lashunda Britt, a cousin of Clark, stands near where he was fatally shot by police in Sacramento
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 an iPhone 6 Plus next to Clark, which belonged to his girlfriend, Salena Manni, reported the Sacramento Bee.
On Tuesday, police said a cinder block and a piece of aluminum were also found at the scene and taken into evidence.
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.
On Tuesday, police spokesman Sgt. Vance Chandler said each of the officers fired 10 shots, but it’s unclear how many rounds struck Clark.
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.
Clark had been released from the county jail a month ago, according to his brother Stevante.
Court records indicate that Stephan had a criminal record that included two felony charges of domestic abuse, to which he pleaded guilty and was agreed to enter a treatment program.
In 2008, he was picked up on a robbery charges, and in 2013 he was arrested on counts of possession of a firearm and possession of a controlled substance.
A GoFundMe campaign has been launched by a friend to help the family with Clark’s funeral expenses