Civil Rights attorney Benjamin Crump talks to the Bee about the killing of Stephon Clark
The family of the 22-year-old south Sacramento man gunned down last week by police has enlisted its own medical examiner to do an independent autopsy, saying through a representative that they do not trust the results of the formal county review conducted last week.
Speaking for the family of Stephon Clark, national civil rights attorney Benjamin Crump on Tuesday said a team of experts with law enforcement background also will go over the police video of the March 18 shooting "frame by frame."
"Just on a cursory look, they say they already see many mistakes that were made" by the police officers who followed Clark into his grandmother's backyard and shot at him 20 times, killing him, Crump said in an interview Tuesday morning in Sacramento.
Crump, who was called by the family after the shooting last week, declined to what mistakes he said he believes the officers made.
"We don't want to give away strategy," he said, "but you have to ask yourself … where was the restraint?"
The Clark shooting took place on a Sunday night after police responded to a 911 call about a man breaking car windows. Police said they believed Clark had a gun in his hands when they cornered him in his grandmother's backyard. After the shooting, they realized he had a cellphone.
Crump said it is not relevant to last Sunday's shooting that Clark had a criminal history. It does not appear officers were aware of who Clark was when they shot at him 20 times.
Crump, a Florida-based civil rights attorney, has become a nationally known figure in the last few years for representing families of young African-American men killed under dramatic circumstances.
Crump has represented the family of Trayvon Martin, a 17-year-old who was shot and killed by George Zimmerman, a neighborhood watch volunteer, in 2012, and the family of 18-year-old Michael Brown, who was shot and killed by a Ferguson, Mo., police officer. Both shooting victims were unarmed.
Crump complimented Sacramento police for releasing audio clips and videos of the incident, but said that transparency has to lead now to accountability.
Crump said his own medical examiner began an autopsy on Monday of Clark's body at a local funeral home, and will continue that work today. "Details will be coming out shortly about what we have found."
The county coroner conducted an autopsy last week, and plans to forward its findings to the county district attorney. A toxicology analysis is pending.
Crump declined to say if and when the family might file a lawsuit against Sacramento police, but indicated that is likely to happen.
"We are looking at everything," he said. "We fully expect to explore every remedy available to the Clark family to get justice for them.
"We are not asking for anything more than any other American would want if this was their children, due process of the law and equal justice."
The state Attorney General Xavier Becerra announced on Tuesday morning that his office will provide independent oversight of the local investigation into Clark's shooting death.
Crump, speaking to The Bee before that announcement, said he would send a letter to Becerra asking him to get involved. Crump said he also will ask U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions to get involved.
A funeral is planned for Clark on Thursday at 11 a.m. at Bayside Boss Church in Sacramento. The Rev. Al Sharpton, a noted civil rights activist, said he will give the eulogy.