Photo Credits: CAITLYN SAMPLEY / AGGIE
District Attorney Anne Marie Schubert announces officers involved in fatal shooting will not face criminal charges
After a yearlong investigation of two Sacramento police officers who fatally shot 22-year-old Stephon Clark, District Attorney Anne Marie Schubert finally announced on Saturday that the officers will not face criminal charges. On Tuesday, State Attorney General Xavier Becerra said that the California Department of Justice also won’t press criminal charges against the officers.
Clark, an unarmed black man and father of two, was entering into his grandmother’s backyard at the time he was pursued by police after receiving a call from a neighbor that someone was breaking into cars. Clark was shot eight times while reaching for his cell phone, which officers mistook for a gun.
Officers Terrence Mercadal and Jared Robinet fired more than 20 rounds at Clark, according to The New York Times. It was also estimated that Clark, despite the severe injuries he sustained from the shooting, could have been alive anywhere from three to 10 minutes after the shooting. It took approximately six minutes for medical assistance to arrive on scene, and another five for them to finally approach Clark.
In a press conference reviewing the findings of the shooting, Schubert called the death of Clark “a tragedy for both his family and the community,” yet failed to serve justice by not holding the officers accountable. Schubert did not address that officers muted their body cameras, and instead proceeded to discuss the role of the district attorney’s office, as well as irrelevant information such as the toxicology reports and Clark’s text messages. This extraneous evidence, however, was obtained after Clark’s fatal shooting. This evidence was not pertinent to the simple question the DA had to decide: Should the two officers who killed Clark be held accountable for their actions?
Racism and other prejudices still widely persist. The Vallejo Times Herald detailed an incident in which six police officers shot 20-year-old Willie McCoy, a black man, on Feb. 9 as he was sleeping in his car at a Taco Bell. Although McCoy had a gun in his lap, video footage from the scene appeared to show police officers asking to see McCoy’s hands only after shooting him from a close range. In another case, the San Mateo County DA’s office announced that it would not seek charges against deputies that tazed 36-year-old Chinedu Okobi, another black man, to death last October, according to The San Francisco Chronicle. These are not isolated incidents — acts of violence with excessive force against unarmed people of color occur time after time. Police officers and other high-ranking officials like the DA continue to protect their own, refusing to admit when a wrongful act has been committed. Furthermore, police officers have too much leeway when it comes to what constitutes a dangerous situation that enables them to use their firearms. A reasonable use of force should be better defined, and police officers need to be more effectively trained. Family members and supporters of Clark are advocating for the passage of Assembly Bill 392, which would “affirmatively prescribe the circumstances under which a peace officer is authorized to use deadly force to effect an arrest, to prevent escape or to overcome resistance.” The district attorney has failed Stephon Clark, his family and all communities that continue to suffer from police brutality. Police officers shouldn’t be allowed to hide behind their badges; they must be held accountable for their wrongdoings. The Editorial Board urges community members to fight for those being unjustifiably treated due to prejudice or bias. These hateful acts of violence have happened far too many times and need to stop now.
Written by: The Editorial Board