Nearly five months after two Sacramento police officers shot Stephon Clark to death and ignited demands for charges against them, police have not submitted their investigation to Sacramento County District Attorney Anne Marie Schubert for a decision on whether the shooting was justified.
As a result, the case remains in limbo, leaving activists who want charges filed against the officers to continue regular protests outside Schubert’s office, at City Hall and at the state Capitol.
On Sunday, activists aligned with Black Lives Matter Sacramento tried a new tactic: showing up at a pre-wedding event for one of the officers and confronting him on video, according to the group’s Facebook page.
“Terrence, I just wondered if you started planning your wedding before you killed Stephon Clark or after?” a woman on the video says as she confronts a man the group identifies as Officer Terrence Mercadal. “And how you’ve been sleeping since March 18?
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“And I know this is supposed to be the happiest day of your life. He will not have that opportunity. Ever.”
The man identified in the video as Mercadal is seated at a table eating with other men, apparently before a wedding ceremony Sunday, and does not speak. Another man rises from the table and asks the activists to leave before the 25-second video concludes with someone shouting, “You’re a murderer.”
The Police Department has not publicly released the names of the two officers involved, but civil rights attorney John Burris identified them as Mercadal and Jared Robinet. The two returned to duty in April, but not back to patrol work.
The Sacramento Police Officers Association called the protest at the wedding “clearly inappropriate.”
“There are policies and procedures that control this investigation,” SPOA President Tim Davis said. “This investigation is ongoing, no conclusions have been made either way and we just need to wait out the process.”
The Police Department also issued an emailed statement expressing concern.
“The Sacramento Police Department is aware of this incident,” the statement said. “We take these matters seriously.
“The safety of our officers is a priority, as well as that of their families. We will continue to take measures to ensure their safety.”
The department noted that it has not officially released the names of the officers, and said it was “extremely proud of the professionalism our officers have displayed while faced with ongoing hostile crowds and intense situations.”
“We are committed to transparency, integrity, and working with our community to move forward,” the statement said. “Incidents such as these are not in line in with our goal of building trust and positive partnerships with our entire community.”
Chief Deputy District Attorney Steve Grippi said Tuesday that his office still has not received the police investigation for review on whether the shooting was justified or if officers involved should be charged.
State Attorney General Xavier Becerra also has promised an independent review of the shooting.
Black Lives Matter Sacramento founder Tanya Faison said the video was recorded a couple of hours before Mercadal’s wedding at Helwig Vineyards and Winery in Plymouth.
“The purpose was to remind the Sacramento Police Department and the officers who killed Stephon Clark that we haven’t forgotten about them,” said Faison, who was not there Sunday. “It was before the actual wedding.”
Faison said activists discovered the plans for the wedding through a wedding site that was available online until shortly after the officers’ names became public.
Protesters have targeted Schubert for failing to file charges in that case or any other officer-involved shootings.
Activists continue regular demonstrations outside Schubert’s office at Ninth and G streets, and the Black Lives Matter Sacramento Facebook page noted that another protest is set for 3 p.m. Tuesday, the 132nd day since the shooting.
“Nothing has changed!,” a message on the page says. “No charges filed! Still the same disrespectful DA.”
The protests became so large and confrontational soon after Clark’s death that Schubert’s office rented a chain link fence to surround the building and parking lot, forcing the demonstrators to conduct their protests and regular barbecues on the sidewalk in front of the building.
Since then, the size of the crowds has diminished.
Grippi said the amount of time police are taking to present findings to the district attorney is not unusual and that such probes vary from case to case.
“They’re doing specific work and I think they’ve asked our crime lab to do some work as well,” Grippi said.
Clark, 22, was an unarmed black man shot to death March 18 in the backyard of his grandparents’ Meadowview home while police responded to reports of a car burglar in the area. Police have said officers feared Clark, who ran when initially confronted, had a gun in his hand. Investigators later found only a cellphone, and said police fired 20 shots.
The release of officers’ body cam footage and helicopter video of the shooting sparked outrage. A subsequent private autopsy released by Clark family lawyer Benjamin Crump found Clark had been shot eight times, six in the back. The county coroner’s autopsy disputed that finding, concluding he was shot seven times, three in the back.
The shooting generated massive protests that lasted for weeks, blocked rush-hour traffic, shut down Interstate 5 at one point and forced lockdowns of the Sacramento Superior Court, the county jail and office buildings.
The case also drew the attention of Crump and other civil rights leaders, although the shooting has yet to generate a lawsuit against the city.
As of Tuesday, no claim had been filed against the city, a precursor to filing a lawsuit. Under state law, a claim for a wrongful death allegation must be filed within six months.
Crump’s spokeswoman had no comment Tuesday on plans for a claim or suit.