“No one should ever lose a son like that.”
That was my initial feeling and my continual belief in the aftermath of the darkest day of my life: March 18, 2018, the day Stephon Clark, my daughter’s fiancé, was shot to death by Sacramento police officers.
My family lost a son, a brother, a partner and a father that day. His killing has sparked many questions: “Why did he run?” “Why didn’t he stop and listen?”
But the real question is: “Why did the police shoot a young black man who was unarmed?”
In 2017, law enforcement officers in California killed 172 people. Of the unarmed people killed, three-fourths were people of color. Although Clark’s killing was unfortunately not unique, his death took place in the state capital and shook the community to the core.
His death was the catalyst for Assembly Bill 931, which shone a ray of light into the darkness of loss in my family’s hearts. AB 931 would change police use-of-force policy in California and protect families from this devastation.
The current law was passed in 1872 to justify killings by police officers, not in support of public safety. It has helped to create a culture in law enforcement that has removed humanity. AB 931 would bring back the human element to police officers’ interaction with the community.
The continued premise of “bad guys” versus “good guys” is no longer acceptable. Instead, AB 931 reminds law enforcement officers that the people they encounter every day have names, families and futures.
AB 931 would ensure that law enforcement officers think twice before pulling the trigger, because once a gun is fired and a human life is lost, it is irreversible. A piece of our community dies and fear of law enforcement deepens in communities of color.
Our family bears witness. We lost a bright soul with so much unrealized potential at the hands of police. Our family will forever be devastated, but we can ensure the future of his sons and other children will be saved by the passage of AB 931.
Do not fall for the rhetoric that pits people against one another, or clouds the discussion of public safety. Instead listen to the facts and remember Stephon Clark.