Killed in His Own Backyard


Courtesy of Jeff Chiu

People gather to mourn the loss of Stephon Clark at his funeral.

Amanda Chung, Photojournalist

Stephon Clark, a 22-year-old black man and a father of two, fell victim to yet another police shooting on Sunday, March 18.

Not long after 9:00 p.m., the Sacramento Police Department received a call about someone breaking several car windows, and the caller described the suspect to be a slender, 6-feet tall black man wearing a black hoodie.

While the police were scouting the area, they saw Clark and believed him to be the suspect.The body camera footage of the police officers and a helicopter video showed Clark running to the backyard of his grandmother’s house. The Sacramento Police Department claimed that “prior to the shooting, the involved officers saw the suspect facing them, advance forward with his arms extended, and holding an object in his hands.” At the time of the shooting, the officers believed the suspect was pointing a firearm at them. In the body cam video, they were screaming Clark “had a gun” for seven seconds when they first barged into the backyard. Four seconds later, the officers started shooting. They fired 20 times at him (Washington Post).

After extensive searching at the scene of the crime, no gun, or any weapon, was found. He was only holding an iPhone.

A minor detail that made a lot of people question the police men’s story was the fact that they muted the audio on their body cameras as they discussed what had happened with other officers that had just arrived at the scene.

An autopsy was performed on Clark, and it was commissioned by his family. Dr. Bennet Omalu, a private medical examiner, determined that Clark was shot “three times in his lower back, twice near his right shoulder, once in his neck and once under an armpit.” He was also shot in the leg. “He was shot from the back,” Dr. Omalu concluded. He believed the first bullet to hit Mr. Clark on his side caused him to turn, meaning he was facing away from the officers when they fired at him (NYtimes).

Ashley Bui-Tran (11) is devastated by the death of Stephon Clark. “In America, death by gun violence is so prevalent that it has now become a norm in our society,” she says. “When will the police stop getting away with murder? When will gun control measures be implemented so that death in America is minimized?”

A representative from the law office of John Burris in Oakland said that the names of two officers who killed Clark are Terrence Mercadal and Jared Robinet, although The Sacramento Police Department refused to confirm the names. At the moment, the officers are on paid administrative leave.