California police shooting of unarmed black man forcing look at policies

From Reuters - March 24, 2018

SACRAMENTO/LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Did police tell an unarmed black man who they were before shooting him to death in a dark backyard in Sacramento, California? That question is forcing an examination of policies dictating when and how police identify themselves while encountering suspects.

Two Sacramento police officers, responding to a report of someone shattering car windows, killed Stephon Alonzo Clark, 22, on Sunday in a hail of bullets.

Police video has shown the officers chasing Clark around the side of his grandparents house, yelling Show me your hands and Gun before firing. Police said they believed Clark held a gun, but it turned out to be a mobile phone.

The release of the video late on Wednesday sparked street protests. Clarks family, through their attorney Benjamin Crump, disputed the police account that Clark was breaking windows.

Many protesters have said police did not appear to have identified themselves when they confronted Clark on that dark night as he stood in his grandparents backyard. On the video, the officers cannot be heard saying they are police.

He (Clark) didnt make any threats against the police, there is no evidence he committed a crime, there was no warning from the police, there was no identification from the police, Crump said.

Crump represented the family of black teenager Michael Brown, whose shooting death in Ferguson, Missouri, by police in 2014 sparked nationwide protests.

Sacramento Mayor Darrell Steinberg said this week that city officials would examine police protocol for how they identify themselves in such cases.

I have a 21-year-old son and I never had to teach him the importance of holding his hands high if he is ever stopped by a police officer, Steinberg said Friday on Facebook. No words can describe how it must feel for an African-American family who has to teach that lesson as a reality of growing up black.


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