The family of Stephon Clark, the unarmed Black man who was fatally shot in his grandmother’s backyard by Sacramento police last year, is suing the officer involved and the city of Sacramento for wrongful death.
In the federal lawsuit that was filed on Monday, the family said police racially profiled the 22-year-old, and that officers used excessive force in the shooting, CNN reports. Both of the officers involved never revealed their names and did not verbally warn Clark before shooting him 20 times. Police also failed to provide the young man with medical attention. Sacramento police never identified the officers involved, either.
According to an autopsy that was released by the Sacramento County Coroner’s office, Clark was hit seven times; three of those shots struck him from behind. However, an independent autopsy shows Clark was shot eight times, six of those bullets hit him in his back, according to a forensic pathologist retained by Clark’s family. Sacramento police said on the night of March 18, the two officers were sent out after getting a call that a man was breaking car windows and went into hiding in a backyard. The police ended up chasing the man, who was later identified as Clark, who escaped into his grandmother’s backyard. Police claim the reason they fired at Clark because he was allegedly pointing a gun at them, but in reality, Clark was only holding a cell phone.
“When the facts are fully disclosed, we are confident that a jury will deliver justice that reflects how grossly the police land city officials failed Stephon, his family and the people of Sacramento,” Brian Panish an attorney for Clark’s children said in a statement. Clark’s family is now seeking $20 million in damages, including funeral and burial expenses.
“The Sacramento police executed Stephon Clark in his grandparents’ backyard, mistaking his cell phone for a gun, assuming he was a criminal threat simply because he was a black man,” civil rights attorney Benjamin Crump, one of the attorneys representing Clark’s family, said in a statement. “Stephon’s life had value. In America, a life — even a black life — can’t be arbitrarily extinguished without holding those responsible accountable.” Police have yet to respond to the lawsuit.