According to Sacramento police, Stephon Clark was moving toward them at the time of his execution, holding what they thought to be a gun or a crowbar. However, no weapons were discovered. Upon further investigation, police found that Clark had nothing in his possession but a phone. They reportedly shot at Clark because he appeared to be a threat, but an independent autopsy performed at the request of his family found that he was shot eight times from the back or side. Dr. Bennet Omalu, a pathologist, found information that Benjamin Crump, the family’s lawyer said, “affirms that Stephon was not a threat to police and was slain in another senseless police killing under increasingly questionable circumstances,” the New York Times reports.
According to Omalu, Clark had no front entry wounds, despite reports that he approached threateningly. The doctor found that Clark had four entry wounds in his lower back: one on the side of his neck, one in the outside of his leg, and another in his armpit. The doctor reported that the findings counteract any narrative that Sacramento police might’ve given in their defense, which was reportedly one based upon the perceived threat. Generally, Dr. Omalu stated that Clark could not have been moving toward them.
Omalu also found that the death did not occur on impact. The shots occurred over a span of anywhere from three to 10 minutes, according to the Times. Immediate medical attention would not have guaranteed Clark’s life but every minute you wait decreases probability of survival, Omalu stated.
Police reported that they had been responding to a report in the neighborhood about vehicle break-ins. Initially, they said that they thought he was holding a gun. But then they claimed that he might’ve been holding a crowbar, inciting curiosity on behalf of the family.
“Beyond the fact that police at first said Stephon’s cellphone was mistaken for a gun, but then changed their story to say they thought it was a crowbar, our autopsy has shown that he was shot repeatedly in the back – which is certainly not characteristic of someone menacing officers or preparing an imminent attack,” Crump stated via a statement.
Clark’s family is calling for further investigation into the case. The Coroner’s office in Sacramento hasn’t released public autopsy records yet, the Times reports. Clark’s death sparked multiple protests. The case is actively under investigation and Sacramento police did not immediately respond. For the family, they are expecting pushback on their private discoveries.