SACRAMENTO (CBS13) — More than 7 months after Stephon Clark’s death, the Sacramento Police Department has finally completed its criminal investigation into the deadly police shooting.
It is now in the hands of the Sacramento County District Attorney’s Office, which will determine if charges should be filed against the two officers that shot Clark in the backyard of a relative’s home.
“I didn’t think it would take 7 months for Sac PD, it’s disgusting,” said Tanya Faison, Founder of Black Lives Matter Sacramento. “I’ve seen investigations take a couple weeks, a month, maybe two months at the most.”
Clark was shot at least seven times on March 18 in his grandmother’s backyard after officers mistook his cellphone for a gun. His death sparked massive protests that shut down freeways and the Golden 1 Center, forced Mayor Darrell Steinberg to call off city council meetings and the district attorney’s office to put up a security fence around its building.
Now, it’s up to the district attorney and the California Department of Justice to look into the findings and determine if any charges should be filed against the officers who fired the fatal shots.
“It’s important for everyone to know that an investigation like this is very lengthy and there are a lot of details that investigators need to process,” said Sgt. Vance Chandler, Sacramento Police Department.
Sacramento Police released a timeline of important events in the investigation from the shooting on March 18 to the final interviews conducted on Oct. 15.
“There was a lot of forensic evidence,” Chandler said. “There were hours and hours of videos.”
Videos that included footage from the officers’ body cameras, in-car cameras and from Sacramento County Sheriff’s Department helicopter.
But Tanya Faison with Black Lives Matter said it doesn’t explain the delay.
“The fact that they gave a timeline to me sounds like excuses,” she said. “I feel like the police are covering their behinds right now. It’s probably not going to be in the favor of Stephon, it’s probably going to be in the favor of police.”
“The officers [who fired their weapons] are still on duty,” Sgt. Chandler said. “For safety reasons, they are not working in a patrol capacity due to the continued threats that we’ve received.”
But he stressed that since Clark’s death, the department has changed its foot pursuit and body camera policies.
“Yeah, they’ve been put in place but none of them have any repercussions attached to them,” Faison said.
Mayor Darrell Steinberg released a statement saying in part: “Our focus remains the same as in the days following this tragedy, reexamining our police practices, avoiding unnecessary risks to both community members and police officers, addressing implicit bias, and aggressively confronting the underlying poverty that exists in far too many Sacramento neighborhoods. The death of one more young man of color is one too many.”
Now the question for protesters and Clark supports remains: will charges be filed against the two officers who killed Clark?
“We’re gonna keep fighting and we’re gonna keep pushing for this to happen the way it’s supposed to happen,” Faison said.
The district attorney’s office said it received the police report and related materials from Sacramento Police Department but declined to comment further.
Stephon Clark’s brother Stevante Clark released a statement:
The Clark Family would like to express their concerns regarding the Sacramento Police Department’s Media Advisory/News Release. Although the release mentions a thorough investigation has been sent to the Sacramento County District Attorney and State of California Department of Justice, all details have been deemed private to the public. Astonishingly, these details have even been completely concealed from the Clark Family, which does not promote transparency in the slightest. There was no mention of specifics of the investigation, such as any forensic evidence found, the findings from the contents of Stephon Clark’s cell phone, the interviews with “numerous witnesses” that were conducted, etc. The one-page release took time to boast that, “Releasing video of a critical incident this quickly is unprecedented, not only for our organization, but also, for any law enforcement agency in the nation.” Not only is this statement irrelevant to the investigation’s findings in the murder case of Stephon Clark, it also is an offensive manner in which to highlight the Police Department’s ability to quickly release a video of their officers killing an innocent human life. The community has indeed been traumatized by the brutal murder of Stephon Clark, which is why the Clark Family urges the community of Sacramento to come together to put pressure on District Attorney Anne Marie Schubert to press full charges against these officers. We need to come together in solidarity in order to prevent this atrocity from happening ever again in our backyards.