No Criminal Charges For Sacramento Police Who Shot Stephon Clark The district attorney in Sacramento announced that there would be no charges against two police officers who shot Stephon Clark, an unarmed 22-year-old black man, nearly a year ago.
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No Criminal Charges For Sacramento Police Who Shot Stephon Clark

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No Criminal Charges For Sacramento Police Who Shot Stephon Clark

No Criminal Charges For Sacramento Police Who Shot Stephon Clark

No Criminal Charges For Sacramento Police Who Shot Stephon Clark

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  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/699797212/699797213" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
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The district attorney in Sacramento announced that there would be no charges against two police officers who shot Stephon Clark, an unarmed 22-year-old black man, nearly a year ago.

LULU GARCIA-NAVARRO, HOST:

California prosecutors have decided not to charge two Sacramento police officers who shot and killed an unarmed black man, Stephon Clark, last year. Capital Public Radio's Ben Adler reports. And a warning, this story contains the sound of gunshots.

BEN ADLER, BYLINE: It was nearly a year ago when Sacramento police responded to a 911 call of a man breaking car windows. Two officers chased 22-year-old Stephon Clark into a backyard.

(SOUNDBITE OF POLICE BODYCAM RECORDING)

UNIDENTIFIED OFFICER: (Yelling) Show me your hands. Gun, gun, gun.

(GUNSHOTS)

ADLER: As heard on that police bodycam recording, the officers fired 20 rounds. At least seven of them struck Clark, who turned out to be holding not a gun but his cell phone. The backyard he'd run into was his grandmother's. Protesters raged in the streets for weeks. Their chief demand was that the officers be charged with murder. That will not happen. Sacramento County District Attorney Anne Marie Schubert says the actions of both Clark and the officers show that no crime was committed.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

ANNE MARIE SCHUBERT: We know he fled from the officers after being told to stop. We know that he continued into the backyard. And we know that when he continued into the backyard, he rounded that corner. And he went to the end of that yard, and he turned around. He turned around, and he was in a shooting stance with his arms extended.

ADLER: She also said evidence from Clark's cell phone showed he feared arrest for domestic violence and that he was considering suicide.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

SCHUBERT: You can see that there were many things weighing heavily on his mind.

ADLER: Schubert's decision surprised few but spurred anger in the community nonetheless. Clark's mother, SeQuette, accused the district attorney of a smear campaign and said she doesn't care if her son was a criminal.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

SEQUETTE CLARK: What matters is how those officers came with lethal force around a corner on a vandalism call after my son and gunned him down when he had nothing but a cell phone in his hand.

ADLER: And critics pointed out that by Schubert's own admission, the police officers pursuing Clark that night did not know who he was. Nor did they have any idea that he feared arrest or was considering suicide. Quinta Givens, who lives down the street from where Clark was killed, said it felt like he was being charged with his own murder.

QUINTA GIVENS: Why are we judging him? He's already been killed. We should be judging the cops. That's who did it.

ADLER: The decision is prompting fresh calls from activists, state lawmakers and even Governor Gavin Newsom to change the California law that governs when police officers can use deadly force. It is also once again driving protesters into the streets, even on a rainy weekend. For NPR News, I'm Ben Adler in Sacramento.

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