SACRAMENTO (CBS13) — Amid heightened tensions between the community and law enforcement, the Sacramento Police department’s practices and protocols are coming to light.
The body camera videos from the night of Stephon Clark’s death are giving way to a number of questions about the officers’ actions in those critical moments leading up to and after the shooting.
“We’re not gonna wait till the end of the investigation to address the policy, practices and protocol questions that everyone is asking,” said Mayor Darrell Steinberg.
During a press conference Tuesday, Mayor Steinberg reassured the public that while the investigation into the shooting death of Clark is ongoing, there will be a separate review of Sac PD’s de-escalation tactics and protocols as a whole.
“Certainly they didn’t use any sort of nonlethal weapon, they didn’t attempt to taze this young man, or use rubber bullets or a dog,” said protester Gina Clayton.
According to the agency’s “Use of Force” policy, officers are “expected to use de-escalation techniques when reasonably possible without it increasing the risk of harm to officers or others.”
CBS 13’s Shirin Rajaee sat down with retired Sacramento Sheriff John McGuinness, asking him why there wasn’t a K-9 sent in or a perimeter set up or a different approach taken.
“Part of their concern I have to believe was the likelihood he would get into a home. Not that may have been to get into a home to take hostages or simply to facilitate his escape but setting up a perimeter is not going to address that, sending in a K-9 officer is not going to address that,” said McGinness.
Protocol says an officer can use deadly force if he: “reasonably believes that the suspect poses a threat of death or serious bodily injury either to the officer or to others.”
“That’s what it takes. They don’t necessarily have to be right if they reasonably fear based upon the behavior of the person,” he said.
McGinness says since the officers believed they were up against someone with a gun, a less lethal weapon such as a taser would not have been an appropriate match.
In his opinion, the officers did not breach any protocol, as there is no real formula to how things “should” be handled.
“Its a very complicated set of circumstances for which you’ll never have a one size fits all,” he said.
As for why officers didn’t administer aid or CPR on Clark sooner. McGuinness says, “They’ve just used this deadly force standard based on the reasonable fear standard you would hope, so moving in immediately would be counter-intuitive. They just overcame something that was an imminent threat to them, so they have to take the appropriate steps to make sure the scene is safe, and handcuffing the person is protocol,” he said.
The mayor says on April 10 they will be discussing this very issue. Council will discuss a set of questions regarding the agency’s protocol at length to see if any changes need to be made.