Listen to Sacramento District Attorney announce no charges against officers who killed Stephon Clark
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Sacramento County District Attorney Anne Marie Schubert has made her decision not to indict the two police officers who shot and killed Stephon Clark last year. Here’s what’s happening in Sacramento:
Girlfriend mourns Stephon Clark
6:53 p.m. The girlfriend of Stephon Clark, Salena Manni, just concluded a tearful press conference at Harmony Church in Oak Park, at which she pushed back on Schubert’s portrayal of Clark and said she’s truggling to “navigate the world” without him.
Schubert released text messages and other evidence indicating that Clark was becoming suicidal after Manni filed a domestic violence complaint against him. Sobbing, Manni said the only thing that matters is “what happened March 18, when the officers murdered my fiance.” Their two young sons, Cairo and Aidan, were at the press conference as well.
Sharpton blasts decision
5:23 p.m.: The Rev. Al Sharpton, who delivered the eulogy at Stephon Clark’s funeral, took to the airwaves to criticize Schubert’s decision.
Appearing on MSMBC earlier this afternoon, Sharpton discussed the Clark shooting, as well as the death of black man at the hands of Tulsa, Okla., police and said: “Both these men were unarmed, both were in situations that clearly did not warrant police using fatality as the way to handle whatever they suspected was going on.”
He said bringing accountability to police actions doesn’t hurt law enforcement; it actually helps. “Good policemen cannot operate if the communities they serve believe they get away with any behavior at all,” Sharpton said.
Stephon Clark was reaching out for help, councilman says
City Councilman Rick Jennings had a take on what appears to be the chaotic last days of Clark’s life, when the young man fought via texts with his girlfriend and conducted internet searches for ways to commit suicide, according to the District Attorney’s investigation.
“Stephon Clark was reaching out for help,” Jennings said. “And all you have to do is take a look at everything he was going through in his last days ... he was reaching out for help.”
The city on Saturday opened “safe zones” - places where families, teens and kids can talk about their thoughts and feelings. Staff from community organizations and churches will provide conversation circles, food, activities and resources, a city flyer said. The sites are the Oak Park Community Center, Tip Ministries, Max Baer Park, the Roberts Family Development Center and the Greater Sacramento Urban League.
The Roberts Center and Tip ministries are open until 6 p.m., Baer and Oak Park are open until 7 p.m. and the Urban League site is open until 8 p.m.
Jennings said the safe zones, which he calls “justice and healing zones,” will give kids and parents a place to talk about their grief, confusion and “express their emotion,” about the Clark shooting, but also other issues they might be facing in their lives.
“We now can’t do anything for Stephon Clark,” Jennings said, “but we can do something for all those kids who are reaching out for help and make sure we provide the spaces and the places and the people and the resources to help them deal with the trauma they’re going through.”
From the governor, mayor
4:26 p.m.: Gov. Gavin Newsom issued a statement earlier in the afternoon calling for “systemic reforms” and added, “We need to acknowledge the hard truth — our criminal justice system treats young black and Latino men and women differently than their white counterparts. That must change.”
The governor, however, didn’t endorse AB 392, by Assemblywoman Shirley Weber, D-San Diego, and Assemblyman Kevin McCarty, D-Sacramento, which would significantly alter the legal standards governing police shootings. Law enforcement officials have a competing bill pending as well.
Mayor Darrell Steinberg was more outspoken about the legislation, saying he would lobby the Legislature for the Weber bill. He is a former president of the state Senate. At a somber press conference at City Hall shortly after Schubert declined to file charges, he said, “I hope that this tragedy propels change.”
Police acknowledge impact
3:38 p.m.: The Sacramento Police Department issued a statement recognizing “the significant impact this incident has had on our community. We understand the challenges that we face as we work together to heal our community, build trust and move forward. We are committed to building healthy neighborhoods in our city, where every person has an opportunity to thrive. We will continue to work together with our community to ensure our city is policed safely and effectively.”
Police Chief Daniel Hahn added, “It is our responsibility to continually examine all our policies and practices for any opportunity to improve how we police our community. We are committed to that ongoing work as a permanent part of who we are as a department.”
The department added that it plans to conduct “a final policy review covering whether the specific use of force during the incident complied with department policy” and will make the conclusions public. The review will be conducted after state Attorney General Xavier Becerra releases his investigation into the Clark shooting.
Clark family attorneys challenge DA
3:20 p.m.: Civil rights Attorney Ben Crump, who has filed a $20 million-plus lawsuit against Sacramento police, called the DA’s decision not to prosecute a tragedy laid on a tragedy. “The key and inescapable fact that the DA failed to even acknowledge is that Stephon was shot in the back multiple times,” Crump said in a statement. “If he was advancing on the officers, why was he shot in the back and the side?”
Sacramento County’s coroner and a medical examiner hired by Crump disagree on how many shots hit Clark and where. Both indicate though that some shots hit Clark in the back. DA Anne Marie Schubert showed video Saturday of Clark advancing toward the officers when the officers began to fire.
“Although the D.A. foreclosed on the possibility for justice through the criminal system, we will pursue justice for Stephon’s family in the civil courts with all vigor,” Crump said.
His co-counsel, Dale Galipo, said “the reluctance of District Attorneys across the country to prosecute police officers is why we have so many unjustified police shootings. Despite the findings of the DA, I believe the shooting was completely unjustified. I’m confident that we will be able to obtain justice for the family in the civil case.”
Clark’s grandmother carried from home on stretcher
2:52 p.m.: Paramedics carried Sequita Thompson, Clark’s grandmother, out of her Meadowview home on a stretcher around 2:30 p.m. Saturday, according to eyewitness accounts. Her condition was not immediately known.
Clark lived on-and-off with Thompson and her husband, Tommy, in their 29th Street home. He was shot in their backyard while trying to gain access.
The Sacramento Fire Department confirmed that someone had been taken from Thompson’s house on a stretcher but did not release information about the patient.
Bishop Soto calls on Sacramento to take to the streets
2:43 p.m.: Sacramento Bishop Jaime Soto attributed Clark and other young black men’s deaths to a “deeply frayed social fabric, ” and urged protestors to fight for educational and financial equality as well as police reform in a prepared statement.
“Taking to the streets becomes the only recourse when public institutions fail to matter to those who are hurting. This free expression should be protected and respected by all those involved,” Soto said in the statement. “Voices on the street must also become votes in a ballot box, conversations at council and school board meetings, unison song in churches. Hands held while marching must become handshakes among neighbors, hands helping a stranger in need.”
Black Lives Matter activist blasts District Attorney
2:30 p.m.: Tanya Faison, a leader of the Black Lives Matter Sacramento chapter, criticized the District Attorney for bringing up personal elements of Clark’s life, saying some of Schubert’s comments at her press conference “irrelevant, unnecessary and disrspectful.”
Schubert, at the earlier press conference, had disclosed that Clark had allegedly beaten his girlfriend two days before he was killed by police, and he spend time the following day looking up websites on how to commit suicide. He also attempted to call his girlfriend 76 times the day before the shooting, and expressed fear he would be sent back to jail on a probation violation.
Faison also called the police “clumsy and careless,” and said City Manager Howard Chan needs to fire them. “We need those officers to be fired.”
Activists gather at Sacramento police headquarters
2:20 p.m.: A group of about 50 activists, including Black Lives Matter leaders, has gathered in the parking lot at the Sacramento Police Department headquarters on Freeport Boulevard. Unlike last year, so far there are no chants and speeches. Activists are talking individually with reporters.
Clark’s girlfriend to make statement
2:06 p.m.: Salena Manni, Clark’s former girlfriend and the mother of his two children, will fly up to Sacramento for a 5:30 press conference on Saturday, according to The People’s Alliance for Justice.
In a 911 call the night of March 16, two nights before Clark’s death, Manni told police he had hit her in the face four to five times before shoving her head into the wall. Investigators later found in a 3-inch diameter hole in her wall, along with swelling under her left eye, cheekbone and lip.
Clark called Manni 76 times the day after the altercation and texted her frequently. She told Clark via text message that she had reported him to the police and threatened that he would be locked up for the rest of his life.
Clark was on probation for two cases of domestic violence against Manni, one for robbery and one for loitering for prostitution at the time. He professed his innocence in text messages to Manni that day and appeared suicidal, Schubert’s report said.
Though The People’s Alliance for Justice’s email said Manni’s incoming statements would be her first time speaking publicly since Clark’s death, she spoke to ABC10 the day after the shooting. The two had known each other for five years, she said.
“I know for a fact he was so scared, scared for his life,” Manni said at the time. “He had too much to lose... he would never want to leave his kids.”
Manni will speak with her children Aiden and Cairo as well as Rev. Shane Harris, president of The People’s Alliance for Justice. The press conference will be held at Harmony Church, 3449 2nd Ave.
Law enforcement assembling
2 p.m.: Law enforcement presence on the streets is so far light. But CHP officers are guarding the I Street on-ramp to Interstate 5, where protestors last year stormed the freeway and temporary blocked traffic during protests a few days after Clark’s death. A half a dozen motorcycle officers are stationed at City Hall where the mayor and city council members are holding a press conference.
“The mother of his child was completely disrespected”
1:45 p.m.: Black Lives Matter – Sacramento leader Tanya Faison called Schubert’s presentation “disrespectful,” especially details about his relationship with Manni and their two children, in an interview with Capital Public Radio reporter Ezra Romero.
“I’m disgusted and it’s disrespectful. He was completely disrespected,” Faison said. “The mother of his child was completely disrespected. She’s a disrespectful ass district attorney.”
Black Lives Matter supporters were preparing to meet at the Sacramento Police Department’s Freeport Boulevard headquarters as of 1:45 p.m. A Facebook event for the protest said consequences for Clark’s death needed to match the crimes done to the community.
“The blood ... is on Anne Marie Schubert’s hands”
1:35 p.m.: The Democratic Party of Sacramento County criticized Schubert on Twitter immediately after her announcement, calling her and her supporters culpable in Clark’s death.
“Sacramento County District Attorney Anne Marie Schubert has failed the public in her most fundamental role,” the tweet read. “The blood from the murder of #StephonClark is on Anne Marie Schubert’s hands and all those that blindly defend her.”
Schubert ran for re-election as a Republican last year and defeated Democratic challenger Noah Phillips in a contentious primary. She then dropped her party affiliation following the election.
‘We won’t stand for it’
1:27 p.m.: Scott Roberts of Color of Change, a national online black advocacy organization that says it has 1.4 million members, said the decision “is yet another example of DA Schubert’s pattern of declining to prosecute officers who have murdered black people .... Her decision sends a clear and troubling message that police officers are above the law when they kill unarmed black people. We won’t stand for it.”
‘A new wound’
1:13 p.m.: Lizzie Buchen, a lobbyist for the American Civil Liberties Union in California, said Schubert’s decision not to prosecute the officers “opens a new wound for the Sacramento community and serves as a potent reminder that California’s law on the use of deadly force needs immediate reform.
“No family should have to live through what Mr. Clark’s family is going through: first traumatized by a system of policing that violently and unjustly takes the lives of unarmed black men at alarming rates and retraumatized again by a justice system that is set up to sanction these unnecessary killings.”
‘No justice, no peace’
1:13 p.m.: Inside the District Attorney’s office, Schubert concluded her hour-long presentation by announcing she wouldn’t charge the two officers in the Stephon Clark shooting.
Although the decision came as no surprise to activists who’ve been following the case, those watching her announcement on their phones began protesting immediately. A small group of demonstrators began chanting, “No justice, no peace,” and told reporters they planned to head to the police station on Freeport Boulevard for the initial protests.
Protest at Freeport station
12:50 p.m.: Black Lives Matter Sacramento announced on Facebook that it planned to begin protesting at the Sacramento police station at 5770 Freeport Boulevard at 1 p.m.
The posting was made as Schubert was reviewing the evidence publicly and hadn’t yet announced her decision. But Black Lives Matter said “District Attorney Announced NO Charges!”
12:44 p.m.: With Schubert still walking reporters through the details of her investigation, Black Lives Matter Sacramento tweeted that the DA accepted thousands in campaign contributions from the law enforcement community within days of the Clark shooting. “JUSTICE DENIED!!!!” the tweet concluded.
Stevante Clark, the brother of Stephon Clark and the focus of many of last spring’s protests, was part of the crowd that gathered outside the DA’s office.
Black Lives Matter organizer Tanya Faison, watching Schubert’s press conference on her phone from outside the DA’s office, said the officers’ conduct that night amounted to “careless policing.”
Earlier, the group said on Facebook that “we will be mobilizing” right after Schubert’s announcement
‘A litmus test’
11:59 a.m.: As Schubert prepared to speak, protestors began to gather. Clark’s cousin Sonia Lewis, standing outside the DA’s office in downtown Sacramento, said she expected no charges would be filed. She called the decision the “death of her career .... This is going to be a litmus test for the rest of the country.” She predicted protests would last for months.
An early protest
11:49 a.m.: Mackenzie Wilson, 29, was already in front of the DA’s office, anticipating that Schubert wouldn’t file charges against the officers. “We already know the answer. We knew the answer as soon as those officers went back to work,” she said.
Wilson was also angry that the DA scheduled the announcement on a rainy Saturday, in what Wilson believed was an attempt to tamp down protests.
A jail lockdown
11:30 a.m.: The Sacramento County Sheriff’s Department locked down the main jail in anticipation of protests. “The jail is locked down. No visits until further notice,” read a sign scotch-taped to the front door.