Crime - Sacto 911

Names of officers in Stephon Clark shooting released by civil rights attorney

The names of the two officers who shot Stephon Clark in Sacramento on Sunday were released Friday by a prominent civil rights attorney in Oakland.

A representative from the law office of John Burris in Oakland said that the two officers who fired 10 shots each at Clark were Terrence Mercadal and Jared Robinet.

The Sacramento Police Department declined to confirm the names. Department spokeswoman Officer Linda Matthew said the officers involved in the shooting have received "numerous" threats.

"Based on the threats we do know about, it would be careless of us at this point to release the names," Matthew said.

Mercadal had been identified to The Sacramento Bee by a separate source on Thursday. He was identified then as an African American man who had attended Laguna Creek High School in Elk Grove and was known as a patrol officer in the Meadowview neighborhood where Clark was shot.

An online search confirmed a Terrance Mercadal graduated from Laguna Creek in 2003.

Melissa Nold, an attorney with Burris' office, said she watched the police videos with Clark's family on Wednesday prior to their public release. She said at that time the digital files they were shown were labeled with the officers' names and she noted them. When they were publicly released, the files had been renamed as "Body Worn Camera 1" and "Body Worn Camera 2."

Nold said her law office decided to release the names Friday because they believed it was in the public interest.

"When we have that information and the public doesn't, we think it's important to get that out," Nold said.

The Sacramento Police Department previously said it intended to release the names within 10 days of the shooting, which happened five days ago.

According to a search of online information and interviews, Mercadal previously served in the Olive Branch Police Department in Olive Branch, Miss., about 25 miles from Memphis. He ran a personal training company as well before moving to California following a divorce in 2014.

Mercadal also worked as a limited-term community service officer in Sacramento in 2015 after a short stint as a police officer trainee that year in Oakland, according to Transparent California.

Robinet joined the Sacramento Police Department in 2014. He made $125,144, including overtime pay and benefits, in 2016, according to Transparent California's public employment salary database. Mercadal, who was hired in 2016, made $73,261 that year.

John Burris is a high-profile civil rights attorney who specializes in police accountability cases. He represented the family of Joseph Mann, a black man with mental illness and addiction issues who was shot by Sacramento police in 2016 while carrying a pocket knife. Burris ultimately settled that case with the city of Sacramento for $719,000, but the incident sparked significant police reforms in the city, including a video release policy that mandates the release of police video in critical incidents within 30 days of the encounter.

Nold said that Burris is not representing the family of Stephon Clark, but assisted them in the first days after the shooting.

On Thursday, Stevante Clark, Stephon Clark's older brother, said the family had retained the services of Ben Crump, a Florida-based attorney who also represented the families of Trayvon Martin and Michael Brown, young African American men shot in racially charged incidents that became national stories in recent years.

Crump on Friday confirmed in a press release he was taking the case.

“The shooting death of Stephon Clark is an all-too-common tragedy," Crump said in a statement. "It is yet another troubling example of a young, unarmed black man being shot by police under highly questionable circumstances. From what we have seen so far, Sacramento law enforcement’s actions – both before and after the shooting – have raised more questions than provided answers. All of us who are committed to social justice are demanding full transparency and answers as to how these tragic events unfolded.”

Note: This article was updated on March 24 to correct how Nold saw the officers' names. They were listed in digital files shown to her, not on officer name tags in the video.

Related stories from Sacramento Bee