No Charges for Police in Stephon Clark Murder

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Stephon Clark. (Everpedia)
*The Breakdown is The North Star’s daily analysis of an essential news story designed to provide historical context, go beyond the popular headlines, and offer a glimpse of where this story may be going next.

Key Facts: Nearly a year after the shooting death of Stephon Clark, an unarmed 22-year-old Black man, Sacramento County District Attorney Anne Marie Schubert announced that no criminal charges would be filed against the police involved in his death. Officers Jared Robinet and Terrance Mercadal shot and killed the father of two in his grandmother’s backyard.

At a press conference on March 2, Schubert questioned whether a crime was committed? “There’s no question that a human being died,” she said, “But when we look at the facts and the law, and we follow our ethical responsibilities, the answer to that question is ‘no.’”

The announcement sparked outrage and protests in East Sacramento…

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30 comments

  • erikaderaas

    “Campaign finance records from last year show that the Sacramento County district attorney received $13,000 in donations from two local police unions in the days following Clark’s fatal shooting.”

    Sick. Was going to say unbelievable but let’s be real. #NOJUSTICENOPEACE

  • cvearnon

    Although I’m not so optimistic, hopefully The California Act to Save Lives will help in deterring officers from using this type of unnecessary violence against our Sisters and Brothers. Time will tell.

  • ymitchell07

    I just read this headline in the NY Daily News, “U.S. Attorney’s Office, FBI to investigate Stephon Clark shooting after state and local authorities decline to charge police officers”

  • kpitts

    I was talking with friends about this last night. One said, “what they ought to do is require police officers to serve as firefighters before they can become part of any police force, then they’ll learn what it means to protect and serve.” — Maybe that’s a thought.

  • jh4090

    Why is it okay for police to gun down a man with a cellphone? This is beyond outrageous, again.

  • ferreroandreu

    I’m not sure how legislative change will help this. This is a people problem. We have racist, bullies for cops who are backed up by big money. We have spineless politicians who seemingly value campaign contributors over human life. We need a whole new system…

  • cdrake0210

    I live in Sacramento and this is so devastating! These protests are happening blocks away from my work and I hope they continue! We need to bring attention to those who not bothered by this story! This is not okay and something must change.

  • lezley.mcdouall

    “It took 4.5 seconds for the officers to fire 20 bullets at Clark, striking him eight times (six times in the back), according to an independent autopsy report requested by the victim’s family.” “Campaign finance records from last year show that the Sacramento County district attorney received $13,000 in donations from two local police unions in the days following Clark’s fatal shooting.”

    Tell me those cops gave that young man any reasonable amount of time to respond to their shouted orders. That assertion is completely belied by the union’s ‘generosity’.

    I keep trying to explain to my friends that are wytepipo defending The Poor Brave Police that any injustice they excuse/justify when it happens to a marginalized community will be excused/justified when it happens to them soon enough. They just don’t seem to see it. smfh

  • wiez777

    If we do not learn from out history, we are bound to repeat it. I was abruptly awaken by this story via several news-outlets yesterday morning, and I am deeply heartbroken, however, I would be remiss if I didn’t mention that I have not grown accustomed to heart ache.

    Stephen Clark was murdered. No excuse should be given for shooting at a person 20 times. For example, if it had been two civilians in this scenario, the shooter would have a hard time proving why it took 20 rounds to neutralize a threat strictly in self-defense. The governor is on the right path in at least identifying that there is inequity within the way that justice is administered from one ethic group to another. But an articulation of racism, prejudice, and discrimination is not a sufficient means of change. Nor is the mentioning of such cruel acts an admission of responsibility or an acceptance of accountability.

    Clark was killed just a month after Nickolas Cruz stormed into a school and killed numerous students. There was a positive ID on Cruz as a search commenced which ended shortly with the suspect being found just a matter of blocks away from the crime scene. Cruz was apprehended and detained without so much as a scratch. Nickolas Cruz was labeled as a lone wolf executing a random isolated attack despite the fact that the attack had elements that were clearly well thought-out and calculated during premeditation. Cruz was also titled a “troubled kid” not a terrorist, which is clearly the category such an event should fall under. Finally, Cruz received a fair trail as prescribed by our countries constitution. Clark was chased down by officers who simply suspected him of a crime without a positive ID. Clark was suspected to have been brandishing a firearm, which actually turned out to be a cell phone. Clark was executed on site. The officers did not resort to lethal force to disarm the suspect or to deescalate a hostile situation nor to save the lives of the innocent. Robinet and Mercadal discharged their weapons with the sole intent of eliminating a target.

    Think about it, twenty rounds? This wasn’t shot out between two armed forces, this was a shoot in. this was a walk up.

    I read the report and was frankly disgusted. But some of the most perverse highlights of the report delivered by Shubert include comments such as “clearly the officers did not commit a crime” and “Clark advanced towards the officers [with something in his hand]. and was in a shooting stance.” Not to mention that private information about Clarks’ criminal record, familial connections, and mental status were disclosed to the public. I felt as if the justice system killed this man three times. First by lethal force, then by justifying his death as legal, and finally assassinating his character; forever distorting his image and memory in the eyes of the public.

    Claims have been that the primary issue with officers killing unarmed people is that many of them are not being trained properly. How can you trust a person to serve and protect your community if they are not trained according to the demands of their position? Why are citizens not demanding a higher quality of safety for their tax dollars? More importantly, why is police reform exclusively reactionary? It appears that the only time that reforms or protections for citizens and police alike is only seriously considered when there is loss of life. Another assertion put forth to defend law enforcement’s poor decision making is the popular claim of “fear for one’s life.” Police face real life danger every hour of their shifts, this is not to be discounted to support any position else where. But the occupational hazards and potential threats are elements that are known prior to acceptance of the position. Acceptance of an occupation that requires a person to put their life on the line is one of the principle reasons officers have such high esteem. This undertaking requires courage and I submit that perhaps there are too many cowards in law enforcement. I also submit that black people are seen as more of a treat than any other racial group in the country. The precedent has been set by the understanding that weather it be a gun, a phone, or a thumb, all super predators are capable or taking life and ought to be handled with extreme care. Shouldn’t civilians fear for their lives against police brutality, excessive force, corruption, and harassment be given just as much credence? Shouldn’t citizens and officers receive equal treatment and be held to the same standards legally and otherwise? Are officers civil servants or Blue lives with exclusive civil rights of their own?

    Equality is when everyone gets the same thing. I don’t want parents from any other ethnic community to have to bury their children. I don’t want equality. I demand equanimity and egalitarianism; that which each person deserves applied through the method of fairness. I thought that’s what justice was but it turns out it’s just us.

    -G.W.

  • asafransky

    Frustrated we couldn’t get Schubert voted out of office last year. Anything else that we can do to put pressure on her to stop enabling lethal, racist policing?

  • danny.a.montoya

    Also extremely frustrating, according to California Attorney General Xavier Becerra, “No criminal charges against the officers involved in the shooting can be sustained. And also cited “…they had reason to fear” the unarmed 22-year-old.

    Journalists at The Northstar, I would love to see an in-depth article in regards to empirical evidence/statistics that may cause these officers to somehow assume so many unarmed Black men may engage them in a gunfight. There is obvious bias involved in these shootings (while heavily armed white men are so often apprehended without so much as a scratch on their bodies) but I truly want to know if there is some statistic, stereotype, or trope officers are exposed to during training to make them legitimately think a Black man is more likely to use a firearm on them than anyone else. I would also be interested in how many white men brandish or pull a gun on police officers — my guess would be more times than Black men.

    It seems we would be inundated with videos on social media and mainstream media (especially Fox News) if there were an ACTUAL epidemic of Black men pulling guns out or having shootouts with police officers. Personally, I have yet to see any body cam footage or any footage in the past several years depicting a Black man turning a gun on officers. I know it happens, many times in a suicide by police scenario, but please show me statistics on whether Black men are more likely to pull a gun on an officer than ANYONE ELSE.

    The story of Stephon Clark’s murder is infuriating and unacceptable.

    • doran.andrew

      My guess is they get it from the same place the rest of the country does: portrayals on screen. We are so so segregated as a society.

    • ncampbell3

      Yes sir! I would love to ANYONE provide empirical evidence on how it is police so frequently “fear for their safety” when the assailants are unarmed and nonviolent. I think turning the focus on the authorities and providing an in depth study on police behavior may be a powerful way to combat the systematic slaughter of our men. Sadly, arguments of civil inequality, egregious abuses of force, and accounts from heartbroken parents, family members and friends have done nothing to soften the hearts or consciences of those able to initiate change. Although I realize it far easier said than done, we need to get to the impartial and definitive ‘why’ of it all, in order to battle it accordingly.

  • mrshthrtylr

    Unfortunately, I wasn’t shocked that the DA Anne Marie Schubert, who receives hundreds of thousands in donations from law enforcement didn’t indict anyone – or that the AG ruled in a similar manner. In CA, 99% of cases were officers killed someone weren’t prosecuted as a manslaughter or murder. That’s unbelievable especially with the number of questionable incidents.

  • alexisaw08

    0.3% of 1,072 deaths in 5 years held accountable!?!?! That’s beyond berserk!!

  • chocxtc

    As with all of these cases it helps to get a deeper understanding when you follow the money.

  • jlygilbert

    Extremely disappointed in Attorney General Becerra’s response in not filing charges as well and as a CA voter, will definitely remember his actions (or inaction). Black/brown lives continue to not matter because apparently politics and dangerous perceptions (aka an officer’s made up fear) matter more. It’s time that the police are policed!

  • mhart28

    Do you see Oprah, Gayle, or John Legend at the forefront of such movements as these? Where is their documentaries to uplift and shine a light on such horrific and frightening issues of our times as this?

  • nnanna60

    Real Justice thru ActBlue has a fund going for this – something like actblue.com/donate/real-justice-schubert

    I just donated.

  • evshoop

    Very disappointed District Attorney Anne Marie Schubert is still in power. Grateful to the Real Justice PAC for focusing on her office. Change in power is desperately needed.

  • alishaholland66

    84 arrests of peaceful protesters.
    0 charges for the officers.
    Disgusting.

  • hollywood1748

    As long as there are no consequences, there will be no change. Period.

  • cooper.petra.73

    We must begin to pay attention and vote during election times. We have to get rid of these district attorneys who continue to ignore or pleas for justice. Im still learning so much about the political arena and how things work or are not working for the people. No longer can we just side aside and let the chips fall where they may. We must get involved to bring about change.

  • Arica Coleman

    State sanctioned murder. It’s the American way. SMH.

  • madisonforrest621

    I’m so sick of constantly seeing stories of unarmed black people being gunned down. Whether in the street or while worshipping in church. It’s amazing to me how police can apprehend white perpetrators of violent crime without firing a shot. Each time I see these injustices I see, someone’s sister or brother, someone’s son or daughter, someone’s husband or wife, gone, forever. Justice truly needs to be blind and deeper psychological testing needs to be done on ALL potential law enforcement officers. And people wonder why the “Black Lives Matter” movement was born. This is why Colin Kaepernick knelt. This MUST stop.

  • coloradoerik3030

    As others have mentioned here, I will never cease to feel pain and heartache for state sanctioned murder of innocent black and brown people in this country.

    I think it will take everything from policy change, to new hiring practices, to new training for law enforcement.

    One crucial leverage point that I’m excited about is Real Justice PAC which was started by Shaun King. Electing progressive DA’s is a great first step in the right direction. AND, we still have a long, LONG way to go.

    One thing that will never happen? These people’s families will never get their loved ones back and it’s a mf shame.

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