Sacramento officials: The two officers who shot Stephon Clark, an unarmed Black man, last March, will walk free

Stephon Clark and his two young sons

by Leah Francois

The two officers who shot Stephon Clark, an unarmed Black man, last March will walk free.

The district attorney’s decision not to press charges has not yet been publicly announced. However, it was first shared with the owners of some of the city’s biggest businesses in a series of private stakeholder meetings held during the last week. These owners were warned to prepare for the worst as the Sacramento Police Department expects citywide riots.

Sources who attended the meetings said many business owners were ramping up security at their establishments as the news will be dropped in early March. Sources at the DA’s Office said officials knew they were not pressing charges since last summer but were buying time for the public’s agitation to subside.

Sources at the DA’s Office said officials knew they were not pressing charges since last summer but were buying time for the public’s agitation to subside.

There were weeks of protests in Sacramento when Clark was shot last year. Initially Darrell Steinberg, Sacramento’s mayor, said he would not question the police’s decision. This did not sit well with Clark’s family or civil organizations such as the Black Lives Matter movement however. On March 22, 2018, a protest shut down Interstate 5, a major transportation pipeline into Sacramento and surrounding suburbs.

Sacramento exploded when police murdered Stephon Clark in his grandmother’s back yard. Here they march through the city on the day of his funeral, April 4, 2018, the anniversary of Martin Luther King’s assassination. The crowd had rallied at the DA’s Office, not knowing then that she had accepted $13,000 from police unions shortly before Clark’s murder. Protests continued for months. Rolling Stone summed up the problem: “Accountability is nearly always a stranger to cops who kill. Protesting police violence is a necessary act of civil disobedience and civic responsibility.” – Photo: Elijah Nouvelage, EPA-EFE

Fast forward one year and the Sacramento police are anticipating that the public’s response to the lack of charges against Clark’s shooters will lead to even bigger protests and possible violence. Clark was unarmed at the time of his death. The Sacramento County coroner’s autopsy report stated he had been shot seven times. Three of the shots were in his back, and there was public outrage about the apparent use of excessive force.

With a public announcement about the lack of charges allegedly around the corner, police have warned business owners that they will not be responding to their 911 calls in relation to looters if it gets to that point.

It is not clear whether the authorities were waiting for Black History Month to end before releasing the information, or for the one-year anniversary of the incident, March 18, to roll by before the announcement. However, they told business men to expect plenty of March Madness once the cat is let out of the bag.

It is not clear whether the authorities were waiting for Black History Month to end before releasing the information, or for the one-year anniversary of the incident, March 18, to roll by before the announcement. However, they told business men to expect plenty of March Madness once the cat is let out of the bag.

A few days ago, Mayor Steinberg visited Meadowview, the part of Sacramento where Clark was shot, and delivered a speech where he addressed Clark’s family. He “coincidentally” chose a site, less than a mile away from where Clark was shot to deliver his State of the City address on Feb. 19.

In his speech he said he did not know when the district attorney would announce her decision on whether or not to file, but he understood how a decision not to file charges could result in anger.

“We have a choice,” Steinberg said. “Sacramento’s next days and months must be a tipping point, not a breaking point.”

He did not tell Sacramento’s Average Joe citizens to prepare for the upcoming turbulence however. Apparently, the city’s early warning system only works for Sacramento’s 1 percent.

Leah Francois can be reached via editor@sfbayview.com.