On Sunday night, two Sacramento police officers responded to a call about a tall, slim black man in a black hoodie breaking into cars in a residential neighborhood. A man was spotted by a Sacramento Sheriff’s Department support helicopter. The report from the sky said that the man in question had a “tool bar” and broke a window in the house he was hiding behind. The man was 22-year-old, Stephon Clark.
Clark was actually in his grandparents’ backyard where he lived, cellphone in hand. After the ground officers were guided to him with help of the helicopter, they told him to show his hands. Instead, Clark ran toward the house. Fight or flight is a bitch.
He eventually turned, arms held out. There was something in his hand – cops said they thought it could be a gun. The officers on the scene shot at him 20 times. Twenty. They let him lie there, bleeding out on the ground in his backyard until more officers arrived on the scene. He was handcuffed before any lifesaving measures were performed.
He had a cellphone. Not a “tool bar” or a gun. Like almost every young person in this country, a phone is basically an extension of the body.
While he was outside being shot by men paid to protect him, his grandmother was inside. She dropped to the ground and crawled to Clark’s 7-year-old sister who was asleep on the couch. After waking the girl and having her get to the ground, she made her way to her husband. She later told reporters that she heard no warnings from cops before shots rang out. She also said that visitors go to the backyard to get let in the house.
According to The Sacremento Bee,
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.
Both police officers on the scene were wearing body cams. The footage from those cameras, along with footage from the helicopter will be released to the public after 30 days.
The press releases by the police department are confusing at best. If Clark had a gun all along, why would he run, then change his mind and point it at the cops? He would have to know they had their weapons drawn. Who risks their lives for petty larceny? That doesn’t even make sense.
What does make sense is that two police officers were high on adrenaline and started firing at a black man in a hoodie because he had something in his hands. Race may have had nothing to do with their reactions, but for some reason, black men in hoodies scare the bejesus out of gun-toting men. The officers are on paid leave while the
murder incident is investigated.
This has happened more times than we can count and no amount of prayers, thoughts, or hashtags will make this end or bring those men back to their families.