Contrary to initial police statements, Stephon Clark was not facing the officers who shot and killed him in the backyard of his grandmother’s house on March 18, according to an independent autopsy requested by the family.
The autopsy, performed by pathologist Dr. Bennet Omalu, found that eight of the 20 shots fired at Clark hit him. Six of those shots hit him in the back and one hit the right side of his body. An eighth shot hit him in his left thigh, likely as he was falling to the ground.
These findings directly contradict statements by police that Clark was advancing toward the officers when they shot him while “fearing for their safety.”
Omalu discussed his findings at a press conference Friday morning at the Southside Christian Center in South Sacramento, Calif. Omalu’s autopsy was performed on March 27 at 10 a.m. and took approximately three hours to complete.
While most of the bullets struck Clark’s right side near and around his back and shoulder area, the first bullet entered the right side of his neck and exited on the left.
According to Omalu, just one of the shots that hit him in his back could have killed him. Clark’s vertebra was fractured, his chest cavity was penetrated, and his lungs were perforated and collapsed.
In addition, Clark did not die immediately. It likely took three to five minutes for him to expire, but Omalu said that does not mean we should conclude that getting aid to him without delay could have saved him. The injuries Clark sustained would likely have been fatal.
No toxicology results are available as of yet. The Sacramento County Coroner’s Office has not released any findings in Clark’s death.
Police officers were dispatched to Clark’s neighborhood after someone called 911 to report a man breaking windows on cars. Officers encountered Clark as he was trying to enter his grandmother’s house through the back door, which, according to her, was the normal way her grandchildren entered the home.
Officers said they thought Clark was pointing a gun at them.
It turned out that all he had in his hand was a white cellphone.