California Police Shoot and Kill Unarmed Black Man in His Own Backyard

Stephon Clark
Stephon Clark
Photo: Facebook via the New York Daily News

Police in Sacramento, Calif., shot and killed an unarmed black man in his own backyard Sunday night after mistaking his cellphone for a weapon.


In their initial press release regarding the incident, police said that officers were responding to a report of someone breaking car windows near the home where a man, later identified as Stephon Clark, lived with his grandparents and siblings. A thin, 6-foot-1 black man was said to be hiding in a residential backyard.

A Sacramento Sheriff’s Department helicopter was providing sky support and reported seeing Clark in a backyard. Those authorities told officers that they saw Clark pick up a “toolbar” and use it to break a window in the residence. Clark then allegedly ran toward the front of the house and began looking into another car.

The helicopter guided the officers to where Clark was, in the rear of a residence.

Police officers said that as they approached Clark, they ordered him to stop and show his hands, but that instead of doing so, Clark ran toward the backyard of the home—away from police.

Police followed in pursuit, and Clark allegedly turned toward them and began advancing toward them “while holding an object which was extended in front of him.” Believing that object to be a gun and saying that they feared for their lives, officers fired at Clark multiple times. They then held their position for about five minutes, according to the press release, until more officers arrived before approaching Clark, handcuffing him and beginning lifesaving efforts.

According to Sacramento Bee reporter Anita Chabria, the officers fired at Clark 20 times. Fire Department personnel pronounced Clark dead at the scene.


In an updated press release, Sacramento police said that there was no firearm located at the scene of the shooting, contrary to what officers said they thought when they shot at Clark 20 times. They only found his cellphone.

Both of the officers involved in the shooting were wearing body cameras, and there is additional audio and video footage from the sheriff’s helicopter, officials said. Police said that material is being prepared to be released to the public.


The officers involved in the shooting have been placed on paid leave.

Isn’t it weird how all these shooting victims are always running away from the police (who have guns) when they suddenly change their minds and start charging toward the police (who have guns)?


That always happens.

I linked both police press releases so that you can view them for yourselves and make your own judgment. Both seem to be confused, jumbled word salads that don’t really give us any details as to just why this young man was shot and killed by police.


Another day. Another hashtag.

News Editor for The Root. I said what I said. Period.


Keep in mind that the police were only supposed to be looking for someone who, at worst, was committing property crimes. Yet they managed to escalate that into the taking of an innocent man’s life. Having your car broken into sucks, but nothing like being dead forever. If I owned one of the damaged cars and heard that a human being died because my windows got broken, I don’t know how I could live with myself. I sure wouldn’t want to call the cops the next time.