Family, friends and the community of Sacramento are demanding answers about the death of an unarmed black man killed by police in his own backyard on Sunday night, holding nothing more than a cell phone in the hand.
Sacramento Police Chief Daniel Hahn told Fox40 that the officers shot Stephon Alonzo "Zoe" Clark a total of 20 times. Clark, 23, died on the scene, leaving behind two young children.
Hahn was present Tuesday night at a meeting of the City Council, where several residents of the community protested the firing of officers.
"To hell with Sac PD," resident Rebecca Person said, according to the news station. "I'm tired of always murdering black youth."
"What is the job of the police? To shoot people who are unarmed in their own yard?" Asked another resident, Robert Copeland.
Fox40 reported that the Sacramento Police Department is under fire for its morphing history of what Clark was leading.
"They explain a story that they may have been armed, they took out another that had a toolbar, whatever it is," Tanya Faison, a member of the Sacramento chapter of Black Lives Matter, told the news station. "Then they said they had a wrench and then they said they only had a cell phone.
" They need to meet. "
The two officers involved in the shooting are criticized for waiting five minutes, until additional officers arrived at the office. scene, to handcuff Clark and begin first aid.
Department officials also face criticism for not immediately informing Clark's family, including grandparents and siblings he lived with, that he was the only one killed in his yard.
Fox40 reported that Clark's family called 911 for help after hearing gunfire right outside his window.
Sequita Thompson, Clark's grandmother, told the Sacramento Bee that she was sitting in the dining room when he heard the shooting.
"The only thing I heard was, pow, pow, pow, and I hit the ground," Thompson told the newspaper.
Thompson described how She was crawling to the place where her 7-year-old granddaughter was sleeping on a sofa in an adjoining study, where she put the girl on the floor. Then she went to her husband, who uses a wheelchair, and dialed 911.
Thompson said that neither she nor her husband heard the officers issue any command before firing the fatal shots.
The bereaved grandmother told the bee that investigators interrogated her for hours about what she heard, but they never told her that it was her grandson who had been killed. Finally he looked out the window and saw his body.
"I opened the curtain and he was dead." I started screaming, "Thompson said.
Sequita Thompson points out the white area in her family's yard where she says her 23-year-old grandson, Stephon Clark, died after being shot on Sunday, March 18, 2018 by police in Sacramento, California. Relatives, activists and Sacramento officials wonder why officers shot a black man unarmed 20 times, killing him, when he turned out to have only a cell phone in his own backyard.
(Renee C. Byer / The Sacramento Bee via AP)
Hahn said that he and his researchers initially had no idea that Clark was related to the owners.
"We discovered that they were related because the family told us," the boss told Fox40.
Hahn said in a press release on Monday that agents were called into the family's neighborhood around 9:15 p.m. Sunday in a report of a man breaking several windows of cars. The suspect was described as a thin man, just over 6 feet tall and dressed in a black hoodie and dark pants. The caller said the man was hiding in a backyard.
Dispatchers sent officers to the scene, where the Sacramento County Sheriff's Department also had a helicopter that was looking for the suspect from the air, the press release said. Approximately 12 minutes after the 911 call was made, the helicopter crew told officers they saw the alleged suspect in a backyard, where he picked up what looked like a tool bar and broke the sliding glass door of the house before running south. towards the front of the house.
That house was next to the Thompson house.
Officers on the ground, directed to their location by the helicopter crew, confronted Clark as he climbed the side of his grandparents' house, the press release said. When he was ordered to show his hands, he fled to the backyard, authorities said.
"The officers chased the suspect and placed him in the backyard of the residence," the press release said. "The suspect turned and advanced towards the officers while holding an object that extended in front of him."
Believing that the object was a weapon, the officers opened fire, the press release said. Clark was beaten several times, although the exact number of gunshot wounds was not immediately known.
A follow-up press release issued on Monday said no weapons were found near Clark's body.
"After an exhaustive search, investigators on the scene did not locate any firearms," the press release said. "The only item found near the suspect was a cell phone"
. Homicide investigators and crime scene technicians said they found three vehicles with damage that Clark believed caused, as well as the broken glass door that the helicopter crew said they witnessed rest, the press release said.
The only elements that the researchers found that could have been the toolbar described by the helicopter crew include a concrete block and a piece of aluminum that may have come from a gutter. Both were found near the broken sliding glass door, Bee said.
Both officers involved in the shooting were placed on administrative leave, the newspaper said. One of the officers has eight years of experience in law enforcement, half of them with the department of Sacramento.
The other officer has six years of total experience, two of them in Sacramento.
City of Sacramento policy requires that any body camera footage of a shooting involving an officer be made public within 30 days, Bee reported.
Hahn said he plans to release images of officers' body cameras, as well as images of a camera aboard the helicopter, after having been shared with Clark's family, Fox40 reported. He anticipated releasing the recording by the end of the week.
The Sacramento County District Attorney's Office, the city attorney's office and the City's Public Safety Liability Office are investigating the shooting, as are the department's homicide and internal affairs units.
The Bee reported that Clark was at least the seventeenth person to die in clashes with police in Sacramento County in the past two years. Besides the young father, three others were unarmed.