In the shooting of Stephon Clark on the night of March 18th in Sacramento, officers mistook the cellphone he was carrying for a firearm. As displayed in this video, the two Sacramento Police officers fired more than twenty rounds at Stephon, hitting him multiple times. They then proceeded to call for backup and administer first aid during the six minutes after the shooting took place. One officer can be heard asking all officers present to mute their body-worn cameras.
Sacramento Police spokesman, Sgt. Vance Chandler stated that officers, “are taught to utilize mute in certain situations.” However, it’s funny that this is not mentioned in the City’s policies regarding body-cam usage, which state that an “Employee shall activate their body-worn cameras during any enforcement or investigative activity, whether self-initiated-activity or in response to a dispatched call…”. The policies make no mention of the officers having the ability to mute their cameras at any point.
This makes it especially difficult to judge their justifications for firing at Clark with such intensity, given the fact that he was reportedly unarmed. However, many are chalking it up to another aspect of his appearance apart from his cellphone: his skin color.
While the investigation continues into his death, protests have taken place across Sacramento and the country in the days since the shooting – with one shutting down Interstate 5 and blocking the entrance to an NBA game. Stephon’s funeral took place on March 29th and his family and continues to ask questions of the Sacramento Police Department.