‘We are outraged.’ Stephon Clark’s mother and family react to DA’s decision
The March 2018 shooting death of 22-year-old Stephon Clark by Sacramento police has spawned national protests, multimillion dollar claims against the city and sweeping new efforts by police to reduce the use of deadly force against suspects.
Here is a look at how the saga has played out over the last year:
March 18, 2018: At 9:18 on a Sunday night, Sacramento police receive a report that a thin, 6-foot-1-inch black man was breaking car windows in the south area of the city. At 9:25 p.m., Sacramento sheriff’s deputies assisting police in a helicopter spot a man breaking a car window and direct police toward him.
Officers find the suspect, later identified as Clark, in the front yard of his grandparents’ home in the 7500 block of 29th Street and order him to stop and show his hands. Police say the man ran into the backyard of the house, then advanced on officers with something in his hands.
Two officers fire 20 rounds at Clark at 9:26 p.m., killing him. Police initially report Clark was believed to have been armed with a “toolbar” he used to break car windows, and later said the officers believed he had a gun when they opened fire.
No weapon was found; Clark was determined to be holding a cellphone at the time of the shooting.
March 22, 2018: Four days after the shooting, hundreds of protesters holding cell phones in the air and chanting “Don’t shoot, it’s a cell phone” take to the streets of downtown Sacramento. The demonstrators shut down traffic on Interstate 5, block access to a Sacramento Kings game at Golden 1 Center and snarl downtown traffic.
March 23, 2018: A second protest erupts and goes on for more than nine hours as marchers try unsuccessfully to halt traffic on Interstate 5 and Business 80. At least one motorist’s car window is broken, and a handful of protesters storm into the lobby of the Main Jail on I Street before being ejected by deputies.
March 26, 2018: Civil rights leaders issue a call for criminal charges against the two police officers who shot Clark, the beginning of a nearly yearlong campaign to have the two face charges. Sacramento police refuse to publicly name the officers, but civil rights attorney John Burris and other sources name them as Terrence Mercadel and Jared Robinet.
March 27, 2018: California Attorney General Xavier Becerra announces he will launch his own probe of the shooting, joining Sacramento District Attorney Anne Marie Schubert’s office in investigating whether the officers’ actions were warranted.
Despite the announcement, protests erupt again. Marchers block many fans from attending a Kings game downtown and the City Council adjourns a meeting early after demonstrators, including Clark’s brother, Stevante, disrupt the meeting. “Shut the f--- up,” Stevante Clark shouts at Mayor Darrell Steinberg during the meeting.
The protests spread nationally, with marches and events occurring in New York, Boston, Dallas and other cities.
March 29, 2018: Clark’s funeral is held before hundreds of mourners as the Rev. Al Sharpton delivers the eulogy. “We will never let you forget the name of Stephon Clark until we get justice,” Sharpton says. “This is about justice.”
March 30, 2018: One day after Clark’s funeral, family attorney Benjamin Crump releases a private autopsy reporting that Clark was shot a total of eight times - six times in the back.
The mid-morning news conference is followed that night by hundreds of protesters gathering at City Hall before marching through the streets until Saturday morning and attempting unsuccessfully to shut down Interstate 5 again.
March 31, 2018: The protests continue, with one marcher getting struck by a sheriff’s SUV in south Sacramento. Demonstrators are outraged after the deputy speeds away from the scene, and activist Wanda Cleveland later files a claim against the county that is a precursor to a lawsuit. A CHP investigation of the incident concludes Cleveland caused it by walking into the path of the SUV while carrying a protest sign.
April 20, 2018: Following weeks of protests outside her office, Schubert has a cyclone fence erected around the District Attorney’s building and parking lot at Ninth and G streets to keep demonstrators from gathering in front of the doors, where they had been setting up barbecue grills and cooking hot dogs and hamburgers. Despite the fence, which is still in place, Black Lives Matter Sacramento continued its demonstrations, scheduling three every week up to the present.
May 1, 2018: Sacramento County releases the coroner’s report into the shooting, declaring that Clark was shot seven times - not eight, as the family autopsy found - and that three of the shots - not six - struck him in the back. The autopsy also finds traces of cocaine, cannabis and codeine in Clark’s system.
Aug. 5, 2018: Protesters briefly disrupt a pre-wedding ceremony for Officer Terrence Mercadel at a winery in Plymouth, videotaping the confrontation as one activist shouts, “You’re a murderer.” The video is later posted to the Facebook page for Black Lives Matter Sacramento.
Aug. 13, 2018: Sacramento police announce a new policy on officers pursuing suspects on foot, saying the Clark shooting led to a review. The new policy asks officers to consider whether a foot pursuit places them or the public in danger and to gauge the importance of apprehending the suspect.
Sept. 6, 2018: Stephon Clark’s family files claims against the city seeking wrongful death damages of at least $35 million. Family members later file a federal civil rights lawsuit against the city.
Sept. 18, 2018: Hundreds of protesters mark the six-month anniversary of Clark’s death by marching through downtown and clashing loudly with pro-police counter-demonstrators outside a law enforcement meeting being held at the Sacramento Convention Center at 13th and J streets.
Oct. 25, 2018: Sacramento police complete their own investigation of the shooting and turn over the department’s findings to Schubert’s office.
Jan. 16, 2019: The attorney general delivers its own investigative reports on the shooting to Schubert’s office.
Feb. 19, 2019: In his annual State of the City speech, Sacramento Mayor Darrell Steinberg apologizes for Clark’s death, telling his family “he should not have died.” The mayor promises to push for $200 million in investment in lower-income neighborhoods to help prevent such incidents in the future.
March 2, 2019: Sacramento District Attorney Anne Marie Schubert announces she will not file charges against the officers who shot Clark, outlining evidence in an hour-long presentation that she said demonstrated the officers feared for their lives before shooting him. Schubert also releases text messages and other evidence that Clark was in despair over a domestic violence allegation and the possibility of returning to jail. Her announcement sparks anger, including a protest outside Sacramento police headquarters.
March 3, 2019: Protests against Schubert’s decision continue, with a sit-in at the Arden Fair mall, Sacramento’s largest shopping center, convincing its owners to keep the mall closed for the day.
March 4, 2019: Marchers descend on the wealthy East Sacramento Fab 40s neighborhood, marching for hours before police in riot gear arrest 84 individuals – including reporters covering the event – after receiving reports that cars in the neighborhood had been keyed during the protest.
March 5, 2019: California Attorney General Xavier Becerra announces his own investigation had determined the officers who shot Clark should not face charges. U.S. Attorney McGregor Scott and Sacramento FBI Special-Agent-In-Charge Sean Ragan announce plans to review both Schubert’s and Becerra’s investigations for possible civil rights violations.
Citizens upset over the mass arrests the night before fill City Hall during a council meeting, with one shouting at Mayor Darrell Steinberg to “shut the f--- up.” Sacramento police release 775 pages of documents from the Clark shooting investigation, including transcripts of interviews with the officers. In the transcripts, both officers tell interviewers they thought Clark was armed.
March 8, 2019: Schubert announces no charges will be filed against the 84 protesters arrested in the Fab 40s march. “In the interest of justice, no charges will be filed in any of the cases submitted,” her office announces.
March 14, 2019: A federal judge in Sacramento urges lawyers for the city and the Clark family to come to a settlement agreement in the family lawsuit that seeks more than $20 million over the shooting.
March 18, 2019: On the one-year anniversary of the Clark shooting, the Rev. Al Sharpton and other civil rights leaders gather with the Clark family and urge new state laws to address how police shootings are reviewed statewide.
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