Seven months and seven days after 22-year-old Stephon Clark was killed on the patio in the backyard of his grandmother’s home, the Sacramento Police Department has concluded its investigation into the shooting that led to his death.
In a media advisory released Thursday, the department said the results of the investigation had been turned over to Sacramento District Attorney Anne Marie Schubert and California Attorney General Xavier Becerra. It is now up to Schubert to decide whether or not to bring charges against the two officers who shot and killed Clark after mistaking his cell phone for a gun.
Both the district attorney’s office and the state attorney general’s office confirmed receipt of the investigation to the Sacramento Bee.
Sacramento Police Chief Daniel Hahn is quoted in the release as saying “Our role has been to conduct a thorough investigation and give the Sacramento County District Attorney and State of California Department of Justice the information they need to reach a decision. We have taken this responsibility seriously, and we have delivered on our promise to thoroughly pursue the facts and report them.”
The department said the investigation began “in the moments immediately following the shooting” and lasted until mid-October. Investigators interviewed numerous witnesses, processed physical evidence from the scene of the shooting, and examined video from officer body-worn cameras, in-car cameras and footage from the sheriff’s helicopter that flew overhead and led the officers to Clark’s location.
“We recognize that this incident has had a significant impact on our community, and that our investigation had to be as thorough and as open as it could be,” Chief Hahn said. “That’s why we released more information than we ever have before, and why we took the time needed to be sure we found every fact available to us. I believe Mr. Clark’s family and our entire community deserve an accurate and comprehensive inquiry into the tragic events of March 18, and I believe we have done that.”
The department then applauded itself for the swiftness with which it released video of the shooting to the public and provided a timeline for significant events that took place during the investigation.
The department also noted that it made significant policy changes with regards to foot chases and the use of body-worn cameras in the aftermath of the shooting.
Still, there is no news of Officers Terrence Mercadal and Jared Robinet—the two officers who shot and killed Clark—being dismissed from the force or facing any type of internal disciplinary action for the shooting. The officers have still not been officially named by the department. The only reason the public knows their names is because an Oakland civil rights attorney identified them in the press.
After shooting and killing Clark in his grandmother’s backyard, both officers were returned to duty less than a month later on April 9.
The Bee reports that Mayor Darrell Steinberg said in a statement that he is “hopeful that the District Attorney and the Attorney General will move expeditiously to reach its findings and recommendations.”
Stephon Clark’s brother Stevante was dismayed with the department’s announcement, and took to Instagram to voice his displeasure.
In a post that included several photos of him with his grandmother in what looks like a hospital room, Stevante wrote:
The Clark Family would like to express their concerns regarding the Sacramento Police Department’s Media Advisory/News Release. Although the release mentions a thorough investigation has been sent to the Sacramento County District Attorney and State of California Department of Justice, all details have been deemed private to the public.
Astonishingly, these details have even been completely concealed from the Clark Family, which does not promote transparency in the slightest. There was no mention of specifics of the investigation, such as any forensic evidence found, the findings from the contents of Stephon Clark’s cell phone, the interviews with “numerous witnesses” that were conducted, etc.
The one-page release took time to boast that, “Releasing video of a critical incident this quickly is unprecedented, not only for our organization, but also, for any law enforcement agency in the nation.” Not only is this statement irrelevant to the investigation’s findings in the murder case of Stephon Clark, it also is an offensive manner in which to highlight the Police Department’s ability to quickly release a video of their officers killing an innocent human life.
The community has indeed been traumatized by the brutal murder of Stephon Clark, which is why the Clark Family urges the community of Sacramento to come together to put pressure on District Attorney Anne Marie Schubert to press full charges against these officers. We need to come together in solidarity in order to prevent this atrocity from happening ever again in our backyards.
P.s. Pray for grandma.
So what now?
The Sacramento chapter of Black Lives Matter has been applying continuous pressure on Schubert—showing up to her office almost daily since immediately after the shooting and demanding charges be brought against the officers.
“It’s really disgusting that it took seven months to come out with this investigation and the results that we don’t even have yet,” Tanya Faison, co-founder of Black Lives Matter Sacramento told The Root. “We have no results and it has now been put in Schubert’s hands, and she’s still sitting on investigations from 2017 that have not been completed. We don’t know if she is completing these investigations in chronological order or not, but if she is, that means this will take a lot longer if she has to complete other investigations that she has not even started yet.
“Based on the press release that Sac PD put out, it seems they are trying to cover themselves before they even release the results of their investigation. They are giving a lot of explanations for what we are already expecting of them—no justice,” Faison continued.
“It really looks like they are trying to take pressure off themselves and relieving themselves of any responsibility for this case by placing the ball in Schubert’s hands, thereby absolving themselves of any culpability in this shooting,” she said.