The two Sacramento, Calif., cops who shot and killed an unarmed Stephon Clark as he stood in his grandparents’ backyard last year not only will face no charges—but they have been cleared to return to duty.
Minutes after the Justice Department decided not to pursue civil rights charges against Officers Terrence Mercadal and Jared Robinet in the March 2018 shooting death of Clark, Sacramento police on Thursday announced they had cleared them as well, the Sacramento Bee reports.
Echoing the Justice Department’s finding of no culpability on Mercadal’s and Robinet’s parts, Sacramento Police Chief Daniel Hahn said, “The use of deadly force in this case was lawful. Our internal investigation concluded that there were no violations of department policy or training.”
But while that finding came as no surprise, no matter how unwelcome for Clark’s family, Hahn’s next statement was jarring:
“The officers involved in this case will return to full, active duty.”
Clark’s brother, Stevante Clark, in a Facebook message he posted Thursday as he and other family members met with DOJ and Sacramento police officials, expressed bitterness about the outcome.
“These people have failed when it comes to #Accountability,” he wrote, the Sacramento Bee reports, later telling the paper: “I’m not surprised or shocked, we’ve been denied justice for generations. The only thing that caught me off guard, was Chief Hahn is letting one of the officers back to patrol on the streets. That is fucked up. Our streets are not safe with a murderer on the streets.”
Stephon Clark was only 22 when he was killed the night of March 18, 2018, as he stood in his grandparents’ backyard. Police who arrived on the scene after a report of someone trying to break into cars in the neighborhood say they mistook the cellphone Clark was holding for a gun when they opened fire.
Clark’s death sparked protests and calls for justice.
However, Sacramento’s district attorney earlier this year also cleared the officers. Sacramento County District Attorney Anne Marie Schubert called Clark’s death “a tragedy,” but found that under the circumstances the police had a “reasonable belief that they were in imminent danger.”