Sacramento, CA – Officials announced Thursday that they will not be filing federal civil rights charges against the Sacramento police officers who fatally shot Stephon Clark.
Instead, the officers who shot him will be returned to full, active duty.
The U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of California and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) said in a joint statementthat a federal review of the incident had “found insufficient evidence to support federal criminal civil rights charges” against the officers.
Officials from the U.S. Attorney’s Office met with Clark’s family to notify them that federal investigators and prosecutors had determined that there wasn’t evidence to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that there had been a violation of the law.
“Accordingly, the investigation into this incident has been closed,” federal authorities said in the statement on Sept. 26.
Sacramento Police Chief Daniel Hahn said in a written statement the same day that the police department had concluded its internal review and found no violations of department policy.
“This incident has been thoroughly investigated by law enforcement agencies at the local, state and federal levels,” Chief Hahn said. “Every one of these independent examinations has reached the same finding – the use of deadly force in this case was lawful.”
“Our internal investigation concluded that there were no violations of department policy or training,” the chief continued. “Although no policy violations occurred in this incident or in the events leading up to it, we are committed to implementing strategies that may prevent similar tragedies in the future. The officers involved in this case will return to full, active duty.”
In March, Sacramento County District Attorney Anne Marie Schubert announced that her office would not be charging the officers involved in the Clark shooting.
Schubert said that it was her office’s job to determine if a crime was committed in the shooting of Stephon Clark, and they determined that the officers did not commit a crime.
The decision came after an investigation by the Sacramento Police Department, an investigation by the California Department of Justice, and an expert consultant.
The incident that led to 22-year-old Clark’s death began when officers responded to a 911 call about someone breaking into cars at about 9:18 p.m. on March 18, 2018.
Upon arrival, officers found at least three cars that had their windows smashed in and spoke to a neighbor who had confronted Clark with a baseball bat.
DNA and glass analysis have since proven that Clark is the person who smashed the windows.
They were then notified that the police helicopter had spotted Clark in the backyard of a residence.
Clark appeared to be using a large object to break out the rear sliding glass door of the occupied home, deputies said. The entire sliding glass door was smashed, according to Schubert.
The helicopter and officers on the ground spotted Clark, 22, as he moved along the side of a house, later identified as his grandparents’ home.
The officers ordered Clark to show his hands and stop. Clark fled from officers into the backyard of the home.
Both officers pursued Clark, who then turned in a shooting stance and advanced towards officer with an object extended towards them. Clark advanced from about 30 feet away to being about 16 feet away from officers.
In the bodycam video, you could hear an officer yell, “Gun, gun, gun” as Clark took the shooting stance.
One of the officers later said that he saw a flash of light which he believed to be muzzle flash from a gun being fired. The bodycam captured the flash of light. The source of the light isn’t clear, but one of the officers said it may have been a reflection.
The object in Clark’s hand was later identified as a cell phone. A forensic examination of the phone show that Clark was not recording the officers at the time of the shooting.
The bodycam showed the officers talking immediately after the shooting, discussing if they were hit and how to safely remove what they believed to be a gun.
A toxicology report showed that Clark had alcohol, Xanax, codeine, hydrocodone, marijuana, and cocaine metabolite in his blood.
Schubert explained that his toxicology report was relevant because it shows why Clark’s behavior may have been altered.
Investigators later determined that two days before the shooting, he had committed domestic violence assault involving the mother of his children. At the time of the shooting he was wanted for the domestic violence and a felony probation violation.
The mother of Clark’s children texted him that there was a warrant for his arrest, and he was going to be locked up for the rest of his life.
Clark drafted an e-mail to law enforcement about the domestic violence and said that he was afraid he’d be put in jail.
He then searched over two dozen sites about how to commit suicide, which primarily focused on suicide by drug ingestion. Xanax and alcohol mixture were a combination which came up in his search results.
He then texted the mother of his children asking if she wanted him to kill himself and he sent her a picture of Xanax pills and threatened to take them all.
Schubert said that her office determined that there was probable cause to stop Stephon Clark, and his flight didn’t remove their responsibility to stop him.