Crime - Sacto 911

Sacramento mayor: DA’s Stephon Clark decision highlights need for better police training

Mayor Darrell Steinberg said Saturday that District Attorney Anne Marie Schubert’s announcement that she will not charge the police officers who shot Stephon Clark deepens his commitment to “protecting the sanctity of all life,” adding that several community centers would be open throughout the day to serve as a gathering place for frustrated community members.

“This is a difficult day for Sacramento,” Steinberg said at a City Hall press conference. He said, however, he hopes the Clark case becomes “a tipping point for our community and not a breaking point.”

Apologizing repeatedly to the Clark family, the mayor said he wasn’t surprised by Schubert’s decision and vowed to lobby the Legislature on behalf of AB 392, a bill that would tighten the standards governing the use of deadly force by police officers in California. He also said city officials would continue working with the Police Department on changing deadly force policies, as recommended recently by Attorney General Xavier Becerra. Among other things, Becerra said Sacramento police must use more discretion before pursuing suspects.

“On the policing front, we have more work to do, that’s obvious,” Steinberg said.

Standing beside Steinberg, Pastor Tamara Bennett, of This is Pentecost Fellowship Ministries in south Sacramento, announced that community centers would provide venues for young people and their parents to “share our frustrations” and talk about solutions. The centers would be open at her church, the Sacramento Urban League, Oak Park Community Center, Max Baer Park and the Roberts Family Development Center.

Choking back tears, she said she hopes “our city will be healed and our city will be saved.”

Outside City Hall, a group of religious leaders expressed their dismay with the DA’s decision.

“We’re praying for justice, we’re asking for justice, we’re demanding justice,” said Pastor Les Simmons of South Sacramento Christian Center.

“Today’s announcement only deepens our commitment to transformational community policing and better training,” Steinberg said. “Today’s announcement only deepens our commitment to changing the legal standard from whether a shooting was reasonable to whether it could have been prevented. Today’s announcement only deepens our commitment to making sustained and meaningful investments in our neighborhoods and our young people.”

In his State of the City speech two weeks ago in Meadowview, the neighborhood where Clark was killed, Steinberg proposed the city spend $200 million in new Measure U sales tax revenue on disadvantaged neighborhoods.

Steinberg said the money could fund “workforce housing and an affordable housing trust fund;” capital to allow people to start and expand small and medium-sized businesses; youth arts and culture programs; and incentives to attract large companies.

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Theresa Clift covers Sacramento City Hall. Before joining The Bee in 2018, she worked as a local government reporter for the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, the Daily Press in Virginia and the Wausau Daily Herald in Wisconsin. She grew up in Michigan and graduated from Central Michigan University.
Tony Bizjak has been reporting for The Bee for 30 years. He covers transportation, housing and development and previously was the paper’s City Hall beat reporter.