Video of police shooting unarmed black
man sparks protests in Sacramento
Send a link to a friend
[March 23, 2018]
By Sharon Bernstein
SACRAMENTO, Calif. (Reuters) - Newly
released video footage of police killing an unarmed black man in a
barrage of gunfire in Sacramento, California, left the mayor "horrified"
and sparked street protests on Thursday that gridlocked traffic in the
state capital for hours.
Police said the video, captured by body cameras worn by officers
involved in Sunday night's confrontation, showed the victim, Stephon
Clark, 22, holding an object that later turned out to be a cell phone as
he was shot 20 times.
The video was released by police late on Wednesday and it soon went
viral on the internet.
Sunday's shooting was the latest in a series of killings of unarmed
black men by police across the United Stated since 2014 that has sparked
a national debate about racial bias in the criminal justice system and
the use of lethal force.
More than 200 demonstrators gathered on Thursday to denounce the
shooting in a protest organized by the Black Lives Matter movement. The
protests were orderly and police allowed a group of demonstrators to
march onto Interstate 5 at the height of the commuter rush hour as they
blocked all southbound lanes.
Traffic was backed up on the highway, and through much of the downtown
area, for hours.
The crowd then marched on to the state capitol building before
converging outside the Golden 1 Center basketball arena, preventing many
fans waiting to see a game between the Sacramento Kings and Atlanta
Hawks from getting in to the event.
"It's a loss of one night's entertainment for me, but this family will
feel this loss forever," season ticket holder Frank Andersen, a
70-year-old retiree from Elk Grove, California, said as he walked with
his wife to their car.
The Kings later issued a statement asking those fans to return home and
promising refunds for their tickets.
Hours earlier, Mayor Darrell Steinberg told reporters he was appalled by
video of the shooting.
"Like any compassionate person, I was horrified by the death of a young
Sacramento man who we later found out had two kids," Steinberg told a
news conference. "What was my reaction? It was horrible."
Protesters marched into City Hall during the day shouting "It's a phone,
not a gun" and demanded to see the police chief.
[to top of second column]
Tami Collins, shows a placard protesting the fatal shooting of
Stephon Clark by Sacramento police, during a demonstration in
Sacramento, California, U.S., March 22, 2018. REUTERS/Sharon
"I have four grandbabies who are black and I don't want them taken,"
said protester Tami Collins, 47, who is white.
Sacramento police said the shooting stemmed from a report of someone
breaking car windows in a residential area where officers later
found three damaged vehicles. Police said the suspect was also seen
from a helicopter shattering a glass door of a house before jumping
a fence into a yard next door.
The video from police body cameras showed two officers chase Clark
through the dark with their flashlights and turn the corner of a
house to face him in the backyard, yelling: "Show me your hands" and
"gun" before they opened fire.
The officers had seen Clark "advance forward with his arms extended
and holding an object," which they mistakenly believed was a gun,
Officers waited five minutes after the shooting until backup arrived
before approaching Clark to help him, police said.
The encounter unfolded behind Clark's grandparents' home, where he
was staying, according to the Sacramento Bee newspaper, which spoke
to his relatives.
Sacramento prosecutors were investigating the incident.
(Additional reporting by Alex Dobuzinskis in LOS ANGELES; Editing by
Leslie Adler and Paul Tait)
[© 2018 Thomson Reuters. All rights
Copyright 2018 Reuters. All rights reserved. This material may not be published,
broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
Thompson Reuters is solely responsible for this content.