#StephonClark: Sacramento DA Promises to Take Her Sweet Time Making a Decision on Police Shooting

A protester holds a photo of Stephon Clark during a Black Lives Matter demonstration outside of Sacramento City Hall on March 22, 2018 in Sacramento, California.
Photo: Justin Sullivan (Getty Images)

Just days after the Sacramento Police Department alerted the media that their investigation into the officer-involved shooting death of 22-year-old Stephon Clark had been completed and handed off to both the state attorney general and the county district attorney, DA Anne Marie Schubert’s office said in a release that their review of that investigation could take 90 days or more.


In a media release that sounded similar in explanatory and defensive tone as the one the Sacramento PD put out, the DA’s office said that they would strive to complete the investigation within 90 days, but “materials submitted by the Sacramento Police Department are voluminous and may take significant time to comprehensively examine.”

“After reviewing these materials, we may determine that additional investigation or information is needed. Our review process may be delayed, depending on the circumstances. We will take whatever time is necessary to complete that process, as we balance our desire to complete this investigation review in a timely manner with the overarching need to ensure any conclusions we reach are the result of a thorough and methodical evaluation of the facts and the law,” the statement said.


TL;DR: We are going to drag our feet on this.


The statement then clarified the district attorney’s office goal in reviewing the investigation. The DA’s office is not here to determine whether or not the officers were right to shoot Stephon Clark dead for holding a cell phone. The DA’s office is here to determine whether those officers should face criminal charges for shooting and killing him for holding a cell phone.

Officers Terrence Mercadal and Jared Robinet fired a total of 20 shots at Clark as he stood on the patio in his grandmother’s backyard on March 18. They had been in pursuit of him because he allegedly broke car windows in the neighborhood—a vandalism charge that would not warrant the death penalty in any court of law. At least seven of those shots hit Clark, mostly in the back, killing him.


The police department still has not even officially identified the officers; their names are only known because an Oakland civil rights attorney revealed them to the media.

“As a reminder, the District Attorney’s Office does not review these types of shootings or use of force incidents to determine whether the officers could have taken some other action, or used some other tactic, in addressing the situation,” the statement said. “In addition, we do not review whether the agency could be civilly liable or whether any policy or procedure of the agency is the “best practice” for this type of incident. These are all valid areas for review, discussion, and potential outcome improvements. However, our review is strictly limited to an analysis of the action the officers actually took and whether that action is a prosecutable crime under the law.”


As a final note, the DA’s office added that because “this matter is under review and is still pending, ethical obligations prevent us from commenting further at this time. Once a decision is made, further details will be provided.”


I guess we won’t sit around holding our collective breath.

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About the author

Monique Judge

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