A 22-year-old black man was fatally shot by Sacramento police for holding a cell phone that they thought was a weapon.
Stephon Alonzo Clark, 22, was shot Sunday as police said they were responding to a call about a suspect who had broken into several car windows and was hiding in a backyard.
The Sacramento Police Department said the man, who was black, was seen breaking into at least three vehicles and later into a neighbor’s home. The break-ins were first reported by a 911 call also released by the police.
Body camera footage from two officers who fired 20 shots at the man includes audio of them asking the man to show his hands, then shouting “gun, gun, gun” before beginning to fire.
“Show me your hands — gun!” the first officer yells. A few short seconds later he yells, “Show me your hands! Gun! Gun! Gun!”
The second officer begins firing multiple shots. Then the first officer begins firing, too — they fire about 20 shots in all.
Hidden by tall grass and the darkness, Clark’s body isn’t visible, but there are no signs of movement.
The first officer yells again, “Show me your hands!” and the other adds, “Let’s see your hands.”
“He’s down, no movement,” the second officer tells the dispatch. “We’re going to need additional units.”
“You all right, you hit?” says one officer. “Yeah, I’m good,” the other officer replies.
The first officer reloads his weapon.
“He’s still down, he’s not moving,” the officer says. “We can’t see the gun.”
Backup units arrive on the scene.
“He came up, and he kind of approached us, hands out, and then fell down,” the first officer tells one of the new arrivals.
The two officers who fired their weapons continue to hang back, holding position, occasionally yelling that they need to see Clark’s hands.
The second officer tells someone that the suspect had “something in his hands, looked like a gun from our perspective.”
For more than five minutes, the two officers are seen standing behind the corner of the house with their weapons drawn.
When they finally approach the man they shot, one of the officers handcuffs Clark’s lifeless body.
“We’re going to need CPR stuff,” he says. The officers put on gloves and talk about going to get a rescue mask.
Then officer one says “Hey, mute?” and the video’s sound clicks off. The last two minutes of the video are silent.
The two officers involved in the shooting have been placed on paid administrative leave. The officers have been with the department for two and four years, respectively; both had four years’ prior law enforcement experience with other agencies before joining the Sacramento force.
The Bee reports that before police released the videos to the public, they first showed them to Clark’s family:
“Allowing family to see such videos before they are released to the public is part of a city policy adopted in late 2016 by the city of Sacramento after the fatal shooting by police of Joseph Mann, a mentally ill black man. Mann’s shooting led to major reforms in the department, including a requirement that all patrol officers wear body cameras.
“The reforms also require police to release videos in ‘critical incidents’ such as officer-involved shootings and deaths in custody within 30 days of the event. Sacramento police Chief Daniel Hahn, the city’s first African American chief, has been releasing videos more quickly than the requirement and for a broader range of events than covered by the new law since taking over the department last summer.”