Man Shot by Police Was Carrying Cell Phone Not ‘Tool Bar,’ When He Was Shot

Stephon Clark

The 22-year-old black man shot by Sacramento Police in his own backyard Sunday night was carrying a cell phone, not a “tool bar,” when confronted by officers, the department clarified late Monday.

Clark was shot in the backyard of the home he shared with his grandmother, grandfather and some siblings, his 25-year-old brother Stevante Clark said Monday. The police department said they were responding to a call of a person breaking car windows nearby.

Police said they believed Clark was armed with a gun, though no firearm was found at the scene. Police said instead Clark had a “toolbar,” that he “extended in front of him” while advancing towards two officers.

A media release distributed Monday night said Clark had moved toward the officers with his arms extended, carrying an object they believed to be a firearm. The only item found near Clark’s body was a cell phone.

At 9:18 p.m. Sunday night, officers responded to a call that a thin, 6-foot-1 black man wearing a black hooded sweatshirt and dark pants was hiding in a residential backyard after breaking car windows, according to a department media release.

Sacramento County Sheriff’s deputies circling the area in a helicopter spotted a man in a nearby backyard at about 9:25 p.m. and told police on the ground that he had just shattered a window with a toolbar then run to the front of that house and looked inside a car. The deputies in the helicopter began directing the officers on the ground to his location.

Officers entered the front yard of Clark’s residence in the 7500 block of 29th Street and spotted him along the side of the house. Department spokesman Vance Chandler said the man tracked by the helicopter was the same person confronted by officers, who said they ordered him to stop and show his hands. That man was later identified as Clark.

Police said Clark instead fled from the officers toward the back of the property, where police said he turned and advanced toward the officers with an object in his hands.

“Fearing for their safety,” the officers fired multiple rounds at Clark at 9:26 p.m., hitting him several times, the department said.

The two officers involved in the shooting then held their position for about five minutes until additional officers arrived before approaching the victim. Clark was pronounced dead at the scene.

Sequita Thompson, Clark’s grandmother, said she was awake and sitting in the home’s dining room when she heard four gunshots.

“The only thing that I heard was pow, pow, pow, pow, and I got to the ground,” she said.

Thompson said neither she nor her husband heard police issuing commands prior to the shots being fired.

Thompson dropped to the floor and crawled to the spot where her 7-year-old granddaughter slept on the a couch in an adjacent den, telling her to get on the ground as well, she said.

Thompson then made her way to her husband, who uses a wheelchair to move around.

Thompson said it was normal for Clark and others to enter the home through the backyard because the front doorbell doesn’t work and she and her husband, who is in a wheelchair, have poor mobility. People would knock on the back window and ask her to use an automatic opener to raise the garage door to admit them, she said.

Thompson said her husband called 911 to report the shots.

Police interviewed Thompson for several hours about what she had heard but did not tell her about Clark, she said. She eventually decided to look out a window and saw her grandson’s body in her backyard, she said.

“I opened that curtain and he was dead,” she said. “I started screaming.”

Police investigators found at least three vehicles in the neighborhood with damage believed to be caused by Clark, according to a media release. Sheriff’s deputies in the helicopter also reported seeing him shatter the glass door to an adjacent, occupied house.

Both officers involved with the shooting were placed on paid administrative leave. One has been an SPD officer for four years, the other for two. Each had four years experience with other law enforcement agencies before joining SPD.

Body-camera footage of the shooting will be released within 30 days, per a city policy approved in November 2016.

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Filming Cops
Filming Cops 5618 posts

Filming Cops was started in 2010 as a conglomerative blogging service documenting police abuse. The aim isn’t to demonize the natural concept of security provision as such, but to highlight specific cases of State-monopolized police brutality that are otherwise ignored by traditional media outlets.

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