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Opinion & Editorial

Sacramento Police Freed from Charges in the Killing of Stephon Clark

Officers involved in Stephon Clark shooting will not be charged.( Flickr)

Almost a year has passed since the death of Stephon Clark and just this past week on Tuesday, March 5, California Attorney General Xavier Becerra announced that the two police officers involved in the killing will not be charged with any crimes. 

On the evening of March 18, 2018, a resident of Meadowview in Sacramento, CA, called the police to inform them that a nearby man had broken a few car windows.

Five minutes after the call, police arrived on the scene. Stephon Clark, the 22-year-old African American man who had recently smashed these car windows, began to flee from the officers as he resorted to the backyard of his grandmother’s house. 

The police chased Clark across the backyard, and as they turned the corner Clark became visible.

Moments later, gunshots rang in the town of Meadowview. 

The policemen fired twenty bullets: Clark was shot eight times with six of them at his back. At the time, the reasoning for the murder was unknown.

The District Attorney stated in a press conference this past week that the officers believed and claimed that Scott possessed a firearm, which he had allegedly aimed at them while in a firing stance. 

However, a thorough search of the scene and evidence of the killing over video shows no proof of any firearms. Rather, the item that the officers believed to have been pointed at them was actually Scott’s iPhone.

Annie Marie Schubert, DA of the area, argued this past week in a press conference that no crime was committed, stating that the officers were forced to make a split-second decision in a position of danger.

The shooting sparked immediate outrage in one of the most racially polarized cities in America, and an independent investigation was soon launched by Becerra to determine the righteousness of the involved officers: Terrance Mercadal and Jarid Robinet. 

Becerra’s announcement on Tuesday was a devastating conclusion to the investigation for Clark’s supporters, and protests by students and members of various organizations have filled the streets of Sacramento this past week.

After a year of extensive analyzation of the night, it is certain that this was not a clear-cut situation. 

Clark chose to flee from the police and not follow any of their orders, and it is unfair to think that officers should not be expected to chase after a criminal, one of the basic rules of being a policeman. 

Nonetheless, this night will go down in history as the murder of another young and unarmed black man. Regardless of how you perceive what happened, it was just a cell phone, and it is inexcusable that after Clark had been shot to his knees, the officers continued to fire. 

What is inexcusable, however, was Schubert’s decision to mention emails and text messages found in Clark’s phone to justify the officer’s actions and to prove that Clark was unstable at the time.

The messages found show that Clark had suicidal thoughts and had been reported to the police just two days before on accounts of domestic abuse. This is certainly relevant information in judging an arrest case if Clark was still alive, but the bottom line remains that none of this information was known as the officers pulled the trigger on the defenseless Clark. 

The incident resulted in proposed legislation by California lawmakers to change the circumstances that can be deemed justifiable to fire, and although these attempts did not pass at the time, there are new bills being proposed currently, hoping to ward off situations like these in the future. 

Stephon Clark, Walter Scott, Trayvon Brown, Tamir Rice, and many more young black men’s lives have been taken by the bullet, and it is time for a complete review by both state and federal politicians as to what truly merits the firing of a gun and the taking of a life. 

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October 20, 2019