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Stephon Clark family legal team explains autopsy drawing error with wrong bullet entry

Private pathologist in Stephon Clark case describes what he found in autopsy

Private pathologist Dr. Bennet Omalu, the former chief medical examiner in San Joaquin County best known for his research on football-related concussions, describes what he found in his autopsy of Stephon Clark, who was killed by Sacramento police.
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Private pathologist Dr. Bennet Omalu, the former chief medical examiner in San Joaquin County best known for his research on football-related concussions, describes what he found in his autopsy of Stephon Clark, who was killed by Sacramento police.

The lawyer for Stephon Clark's family clarified Monday where police bullets struck the 22-year-old black man's body after the legal team released two conflicting autopsy drawings last week.

Attorney Benjamin Crump, who is representing the Clark family, Monday confirmed to The Bee that an erroneous set of autopsy drawings was distributed and remained on the attorney's website over the weekend.

Those drawings misplaced the location of the first bullet that struck Clark from the side near his shoulder. That bullet hit Clark on his left side, according to the family's pathologist, but the erroneous set of drawings showed him being struck on the right side.

After a Friday press conference, the legal team's communications staff pointed reporters to the wrong drawing on Crump's website after they pointed out the discrepancy.

On Monday, the legal team said the correct information was provided during a Friday press conference by forensic pathologist Dr. Bennet Omalu, who performed the autopsy for the family and is nationally known for his research on football-related concussions.

Crump confirmed Monday that the confusion was caused by a mix-up that allowed an uncorrected set of drawings to remain on a press website. The wrong drawing has since been removed from Crump's website.

Friday, Omalu said Clark was hit eight times by two Sacramento police officers. In addition to the shot near his left shoulder, Clark was shot six times in his back and once in his leg. The shot in his leg likely occurred as he was falling to the ground.

That shot entered in the front of Clark's leg, the legal team confirmed Monday.

Autopsy diagram

According to the autopsy that Dr. Bennet Omalu performed for the Clark family, Stephon Clark was hit by eight bullets. The bullet numbers are for reference only, and do not indicate the sequence of impact. This diagram shows the correct location for Bullet 7, which was misplaced on one of the diagrams released to the media Friday.
Key points from Omalu’s analysis:
Source: Dr. Bennet Omalu
Sharon Okada / The Sacramento Bee

Police on Friday declined to respond to the independent autopsy, citing the ongoing investigation.

Police encountered Clark on March 18 while responding to a call about a man breaking car windows. It is unknown if Clark was the man breaking windows, but a Sacramento County Sheriff's Department helicopter located him in a nearby backyard and reported he had used a "toolbar" to break a window there.

Police confronted Clark in the driveway of his grandparents' home and chased him into the backyard, where they shot at him 20 times. Omalu's autopsy report found Clark likely lived for 3 to 10 minutes after the shooting. Police did not immediately render aid, citing the need to ensure Clark was no longer a threat.

Crump said he has not yet filed a claim with the city of Sacramento, a required precursor to a lawsuit. He said he didn't know when or if a lawsuit would be filed, or if a settlement could be reached prior to legal action.

"I don’t want to say one way or the other because a lot of this is going to be based on the city leadership," Crump said. "We're getting everything in place to make sure we explore every legal remedy possible."

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