Sacramento police fatally shot a 22-year-old unarmed black man in his backyard Sunday (March 18) after mistaking his cellphone for a weapon. According to reports, police were responding to a call someone in the neighborhood was breaking car windows.
Stephon Clark lived with his grandmother, grandfather and few siblings, older brother, 25-year-old Stevante Clark said. Police said they believed Clark was armed wth a gun, though no gun was found at the scene. Police then said Clark had an “object” that he extended in front of him while advancing towards the officers.
It was believed Clark had a tool bar, but a conclusion of the department’s on-scene investigation revealed the only item found near Clark’s body was his cellphone.
Sacramento County Sheriff’s deputies circling the area in a helicopter told law enforcement on the ground they spotted a man in a backyard at 9:25PM. The deputies in the helicopter said the assailant shattered a window with a toolbar then ran to the front of the house and looked inside a car. The deputies instructed the officers on the ground to close in on the location.
Law enforcement entered the front yard for the Clark residence Department spokesman Vance Chandler said the man deputies in helicopters tracked was the same man cops came in contact with, which was Clark. Police said Clark then ran towards the backyard and when he turned around he advanced towards them with an object in his hand.
“Fearing for their safety” officers fired multiple rounds killing Clark at about 9:26PM.
Clark’s grandmother said she was sitting in her dinning room when she heard the rounds. “The only thing I heard was pow pow pow pow and I got to the ground,” Sequita Thompson said. “I opened that curtain and he was dead. I started screaming.”
The two officers involved were wearing body cameras. Sacramento police say they will release the footage to the public. Both officers have since been placed on administrative leave.