With his city on edge, Sacramento Mayor Darrell Steinberg called on the “community to remain peaceful” four days after two police officers shot and killed an unarmed black man in his grandparents’ backyard in Meadowview.
“Emotions are understandably high. People are anguished. They’re angry and they are upset. I understand it, and we understand it,” the mayor told reporters at City Hall. “I urge our community to remain peaceful, to respect one another, to try and be extra kind to each other. Let us channel our anguish into healing and to justice.”
Moments after the mayor spoke, Black Lives Matter and other activists staged a protest at City Hall that shut down major downtown streets and eventually Interstate 5 in both directions. Some people carried yellow signs reading “Sac PD: STOP KILLING US!”
Stephon Clark was shot in a barrage of bullets by two officers who said he had a gun; only a cell phone was found next to his body. Clark’s family is also questioning whether their loved one was the man officers were searching for after a neighbor called 911 to report someone breaking into cars.
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The officers who shot Clark did not identity themselves as police. Emergency personnel also waited several minutes before beginning medical aid on Clark.
Steinberg said police officials will spend the next two weeks examining department policies on when officers should use non-lethal force; how many shots officers should fire at suspects; how long cops should wait before rendering medical aid to people they have shot; and whether they should identify themselves as police in incidents when force is used. He said officials would give a report on those policies to the City Council on April 10.
“The tragedy warrants not only our sorrow, but a deep examination of what occurred and the policies and procedures must be examined and changed to minimize the chance that this happens again,” the mayor said.
Steinberg was criticized by residents on social media after saying Wednesday night that he would not “second guess” the actions of the officers who shot Clark. He said Thursday that his comments were “unartful.”
“It is not fair in my opinion to render a judgment on the specifics of this case until more facts are known that explain what we all saw in the video,” the mayor said.
Steinberg also expressed sympathy for the African American community. “It is vital that we give voice to the pain in our community, especially the African American community,” he said. “There is far too much history, too much pain not to say loud and clear: ‘The death of one more young man of color is one too many.’
“Change begins with truth,”” he added. “It is a different experience for a young African American man to walk down the street on a Saturday night with his friends. It is a far different experience for an African American mother or father to watch their son leave their house for a job or for a good time and wonder, ‘God will I ever see him again?’’’
Steinberg also gave support to police officers, who he said “put their lives on the line every single day.”