A 22-year-old African American man was fatally shot by Sacramento police in his own backyard Sunday night, after police mistook his cell phone for a gun, according to The Sacramento Bee.
The Bee reports that Stephon Clark was killed in the backyard of the south Sacramento home he shared with his grandparents and siblings, according to his 25-year-old brother Stevante Clark. He was shot eight times, with six shots to his back, according to CNN.
The Sacramento Police Department has not identified the officers who shot Clark, but a civil rights attorney named them Friday as Officer Terrence Mercadal and Officer Jared Robinet, the Sacramento Bee reported.
Mercadal, who is black, is a native of Elk Grove, California, who graduated from Laguna Creek High School in 2003, and is a patrol officer in the neighborhood where Clark was killed, the Bee reports. He has worked in Sacramento since 2015 after previously working for the Olive Branch Police Department in Missouri. Robinet has been with the police department since 2014.
Here’s what you need to know:
1. Stephon Clark was a Son, a Brother, and a Father of Two Young Sons
Stephon Alonzo Clark, whose legal name is Stephan Clark, was a stay-at-home father of two young sons, ages 1 and 3, according to his family.
According to his family, Clark was a Sacramento High School alumnus with a fondness for sneakers, football and video games. Clark left behind two young sons, Cairo and Aiden, reports the Bee.
Though his birth certificate read “Stephen,” Clark changed the spelling of his name from that of his father, Clark’s brother Stevante Clark told the Bee.
Many friends also referred to him as “Zoe,” short for Alonzo, his middle name, the Bee reports.
2. Police Allegedly Responded to a Call About Somebody Breaking Car Windows before Fatally Shooting Clark
According to the Los Angeles Times, police received a call that a six-foot-one man wearing a black hoodie and dark pants was breaking into vehicles, breaking car windows and was hiding in a backyard, according to the Sacramento Police Department.
According to the LA Times, “a Sacramento County Sheriff’s Department’s helicopter circling overhead found a man in a backyard at about 9:25 p.m. and directed police officers toward him,” authorities said. “Deputies told police that the man had picked up a “toolbar” and broke a window to a home.”
Sequita Thompson, Clark’s grandmother, said it was common for Clark and other guests to enter their home through the backyard due to their faulty doorbell and the fact that she and her husband have “poor mobility,” according to the Bee. Thompson said that guests generally knock on the back window and ask her to open the garage door to let them in.
3. Clark’s Grandmother Never Heard Police Issue Commands Before Shooting
Thompson said she was in her home when she heard four gunshots outside the window, according to the Bee. Thompson claims that neither she nor her husband heard police issue any commands to Clark prior to the shots being fired.
“The only thing that I heard was pow, pow, pow, pow, and I got to the ground,” she told the Bee.
The Bee reports that Thompson dropped to the floor and crawled to her 7-year-old granddaughter who was sleeping in a different room and told her to get to the ground, before making her way to husband, who is in a wheelchair.
According to the Bee, Police interviewed Thompson for several hours about what she had heard but did not tell her that her grandson was shot in the backyard, she said. She eventually decided to look out a window and saw her grandson’s body in her backyard.
“I opened that curtain and he was dead,” she said, according to the Bee. “I started screaming.”
Clark’s family members flooded his grandparents’ home on Tuesday, demanding answers on what led up to the fatal shooting of a young husband and father.
“He was at the wrong place at the wrong time in his own backyard?” Thompson said Tuesday, according to another report by The Sacramento Bee. “C’mon now, they didn’t have to do that.”
Body-camera footage of the shooting has been released by the Sacramento Police Department. You can view the video footage here.
4. Police Shot Clark 20 Times and Waited for Nearly Six Minutes Before Administering CPR, According to Reports
The LA Times reports that officers gave Clark commands to stop and show his hands, but he immediately fled. They chased him to the backyard, where authorities say he turned and advanced toward the officers “while holding an object which was extended in front of him.”
“The officers believed the suspect was pointing a firearm at them. Fearing for their safety, the officers fired their duty weapons striking the suspect multiple times,” the police department said in a news release. “The involved officers held their position for approximately five minutes, until additional officers arrived. Officers approached the suspect, handcuffed him and began life saving efforts.”
He was pronounced dead at the scene.
According to the Bee, Clark’s girlfriend Salena Manni said the phone Clark held belonged to her. She said it was an iPhone 6 Plus in a rose gold-colored case with a black holder on the back to carry items like credit cards.
Clark had been released from county jail about a month before his death, Stevante Clark told the Bee.
According to CNN, an independent autopsy shows that Stephon Clark was shot by Sacramento police eight times, and six of those shots were in his back, according to Dr. Bennet Omalu, the forensic pathologist retained by Clark’s family to conduct a separate autopsy. Clark also received a shot to both his left thigh and his side.
5. Twitter Users took to Social Media to Express Outrage at the Murder of Another Unarmed Black Man
Many members of the African American community in Sacramento and across social media have voiced concerns over the shooting and how the department will respond to it.
“This is a moment of truth,” said community activist Berry Accius, according to the Bee. Accius said that many community members expect the department to handle this incident with a greater degree of care and transparency than many feel past police shootings of African American’s have received.
Twitter lit up with users expressing outrage at yet another fatal shooting of an unarmed black man.
120 community activists led by Black Lives Matter gathered in front of the Meadowview Light Rail Station off of Meadowview Road for a vigil and protest, according to the Bee.
Sacramento Pastor Les Simmons, the former president of a police oversight commission who quit after the fatal shooting of a mentally ill black man in 2016, led a group of family members through prayer at the station’s parking lot, reports the Bee.
“I think right now is a moment for our community,” he said afterward. “A moment to show real transparency.”
A GoFundMe page to pay for Clark’s funeral expenses was established Monday afternoon. Stevante Clark said the family wanted enough money to bury his younger brother next to another brother killed a few years ago, also by gun violence.