Tentative settlement reached in Stephon Clark family lawsuit against Sacramento, court says

Lawyers for the city of Sacramento and Stephon Clark’s children have reached a partial settlement of the Clark family’s $20 million lawsuit over the March 2018 shooting by police that killed the unarmed black man, federal court filings say.

Following a closed door session in federal court in Sacramento on Tuesday before U.S. Magistrate Judge Kendall J. Newman, “parties reached a verbal settlement” on behalf of Clark’s two young sons and their guardians, and all future court dates involving them were ordered vacated, according to court minutes of the session.

The minutes do not spell out whether a settlement has been reached with all the plaintiffs, including Clark’s parents or grandparents. A dollar amount for the verbal settlement was not released.

Lawyers for the Clark family did not respond to requests for comment on the terms of the settlement.

City Spokesman Tim Swanson said a settlement has not been reached and the City Council has not approved a settlement. The City Council last discussed the case on May 21 during a closed session meeting, city records show.

One source familiar with the lawsuit who was not authorized to speak on the case said the two sides were negotiating earlier over a proposed $4.5 million settlement but could not agree on that figure.

The Clark family filed a $35 million claim against the city last year following the shooting of the 22-year-old Clark, who was killed in the backyard of his grandparents’ home after running from police.

That was followed by a lawsuit seeking at least $20 million for the family.

Police have said the two officers who shot him believed he had a gun and was moving toward them; investigators later discovered he was carrying only a cell phone.

Clark’s death spawned angry protests that shut down entire swaths of downtown for weeks and closed Interstate 5 during one march.

A protest earlier this year in the Fab 40s neighborhood of East Sacramento led to the arrest of more than 80 people, and sparked a civil rights lawsuit on behalf of the protesters.

It also spawned a series of reforms by Sacramento police and city officials who vowed to improve its policies on use of force.

Sam Stanton has worked for The Bee since 1991 and has covered a variety of issues, including politics, criminal justice and breaking news.