A 22-year-old Black man was gunned down by police in his backyard on Sunday night after Sacramento police mistook his cell phone for a weapon.
Stephon Clark has been identified as the victim in a shooting that took place after officers were called to investigate a series of shattered car windows around 9:18 p.m. Clark, a father of two, was killed at the home he shared with his grandparents and siblings, The Sacramento Bee reports.
According to the Bee, police where looking for a 6-foot-1 Black man wearing a black hooded sweatshirt and dark pants, hiding in a nearby backyard. Police also believed a suspect broke a neighbor’s sliding glass window with a “toolbar.”
As the Sacramento County Sherriff’s Department surveyed Clark’s neighborhood with a helicopter, they spotted Clark in his backyard and deployed a police unit to his location around 9:25 p.m.
When officers approached they alleged Clark ran, then turned around and held out an object in front of him. At 9:26 p.m. police fired several shots, “fearing for their safety.” Clark was announced dead at the scene.
Police originally stated that excessive force was used because they believed Clark was armed with a toolbar, but later discovered it was a cell phone. No firearm was recovered at the scene. Police are naming Clark as the suspect who vandalized the cars and the sliding glass window.
Authorities maintain they recovered two items near the broken sliding glass window: a cinder block and a piece of aluminum similar to what might be used for a gutter.
Clark’s grandmother, Sequita Thompson, said she was inside the home when she heard the shots.
“The only thing that I heard was pow, pow, pow, pow, and I got to the ground.” she told the Bee. Thompson alleges that she nor her husband heard officers commands before shots were fired. She also instructed her seven-year-old granddaughter, who was sleeping on a nearby couch, to duck for safety.
She told the outlet police interviewed for hours before they informed her of her grandson’s death.
“I opened that curtain and he was dead,” she said. “I started screaming.”
The two unnamed officers involved in the shooting were wearing body cameras–the police department will release the footage within 30 days, along with audio and footage from the helicopter in accordance with city policy. According to the Bee, the officers have been placed on administrative leave, pending an investigation.
SOURCE: The Sacramento Bee
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