Sacramento District Attorney Anne Marie Schubert is not filing criminal charges against the police officers who killed unarmed 22-year-old Stephon Clark.
Schubert announced Saturday afternoon that she would not pursue charges, saying the officers who killed Clark did so out of legitimate fear that Clark had a weapon and had the potential to harm them. According to USA Today, Schubert said that in addition to reviewing video evidence of Clark’s death, she also reviewed Stephon Clark’s cell phone records, saying that he had searched for ways to commit suicide prior to being shot to death in the early morning hours of March 19, 2018.
“The evidence in this case demonstrates that both officers had an honest and reasonable belief that they were in imminent danger of death or great bodily injury,” Schubert wrote in a summary that came with her report concluding the shooting was justified. “Therefore, the shooting of Mr. Clark was lawful and no criminal charges will be filed.”
Officers Terrence Mercadal and Jared Robinet fired 20 shots at Clark last year, when he was in his grandparents’ backyard. Clark was unarmed, though he had a pink and white cellphone which officers identified as a gun before shooting him to death. An autopsy showed that Clark was hit eight times, with three shots hitting him in the right side of his back.
Police were pursuing Clark on suspicion he was breaking into cars in the Meadowview neighborhood on the South side of Sacramento. In her review of evidence, Schubert said that while Clark was found to be unarmed, officers said they thought the glint of the phone was a muzzle flash, prompting them to fire.
Clark, who was just 22 years old when he died, had two children. His mother, Sequette Clark, said Schubert’s decision to not charge the officers was “not right,” adding “the fight begins now.” She said Schubert also engaged in a character assassination campaign against her son by bringing up a toxicology report showing that Clark had drugs in his system when he was killed, which Clark’s mother said was not relevant to the case.
“I don’t care if he was a criminal. None of that matters,” she said. “Stop trying to justify [the shooting] by looking at a person’s character… Everybody should just stop and look at what they did at 22.”
Schubert’s latest decision finding that officers acted lawfully when shooting a person to death was the 34th consecutive decision absolving police of criminal accountability in the killing of a citizen, according to the Sacramento Bee.
Carl Gibson is a politics contributor for Grit Post. His work has previously been published in The Guardian, The Washington Post, The Houston Chronicle, Al-Jazeera America, and NPR, among others. Follow him on Twitter @crgibs or send him an email at carl at gritpost dot com.