Almost a year after Sacramento police fatally shot Stephon Clark, a 22-year-old unarmed black man who died in his grandmother's backyard, District Attorney Anne-Marie Schubert announced during a Saturday press conference that the two officers who killed him will not face criminal charges.
On Saturday, Schubert presented her office's review of the case, which came to the conclusion that the two officers, who she identified as Jared Robinet and Terrence Mercadal, "honestly, without hesitation, believed he had a gun", Schubert said. "There is no question that the death of Stephon Clark is a tragedy not just for this family but for this community", she added. The officers have said they thought Stephon Clark, a vandalism suspect, had a gun.
JPSO is investigating the encounter and will discipline deputies if law or policy was violated, the agency said.
Clark's family, including his two sons, his parents and his grandparents, filed a wrongful death lawsuit in January seeking more than $20 million from the city, Mercadal and Robinet, alleging that the officers used excessive force and that he was a victim of racial profiling.
Protests after the shooting were largely peaceful but disrupted downtown professional basketball games and freeway traffic.
Dr. Bennet Omalu - subject of the Will Smith film Concussion - conducted an independent autopsy for Clark's family, and said police shot the young man seven times from behind.
Passions were more inflamed by conflicting autopsy results.
Police video of the shooting does not clearly capture all that happened after Clark ran into his grandmother's backyard. "But the officers didn't know that". The video showed Clark staggering sideways and falling on his stomach as the officers continued shooting.
Dr. Bennet Omalu, the pathologist whose study of chronic traumatic encephalopathy in football players prompted the NFL to adopt new safety rules created to prevent concussions, said the autopsy he conducted for the family showed police shot Clark seven times from behind.
The decision not to charge the officers in the death of Stephon Clark, 22, angered community activists and touched off protests outside police headquarters in Sacramento, the California state capital.
Protests after the shooting were so massive they at one point closed an interstate; in August, an angry group crashed the wedding of one of the accused officers.
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