Family questions police killing of stay-at-home dad in grandparents’ yard

Posted at 7:09 PM, Mar 21, 2018
and last updated 2018-03-21 19:09:20-04

SACRAMENTO, Calif. — A black man who Sacramento police say was seen breaking into at least three vehicles and later into a neighbor’s home was killed by officers who fired 20 shots, igniting questions by relatives, activists and others after it turned out he was holding only a cellphone.

The shooting Sunday night happened in the backyard of the man’s grandparents’ home, where he was staying, after police said he refused orders to stop and show his hands.

Sacramento police say he advanced toward the officers holding an object extended in front of him. The officers thought he was pointing a handgun and opened fire, the department said.

No gun was found and only the cellphone was found near his body when additional officers arrived and approached him about five minutes after the shooting, the department said.

Authorities have not released the man’s name but a woman who said she was his fiancee identified him as Stephon Alonzo Clark, 22, the father of her two sons, ages 1 and 3.

“We’re mourning right now and so we need our time to mourn,” Salena Manni, said Wednesday as the family gathered in his grandparents’ home.

“He was at the wrong place at the wrong time in his own backyard?” Clark’s grandmother, Sequita Thompson, told The Sacramento Bee . “C’mon now, they didn’t have to do that.”

The department could not say how many times Clark was hit, and the coroner’s office was not releasing information until his relatives were notified. The department said the two officers have been with Sacramento police for two and four years, but each has four years’ previous experience with other law enforcement agencies. Both are on paid administrative leave.

Clark routinely helped care for his grandparents at their home in south Sacramento, his cousin, Sonia Lewis, told Capitol Public Radio .

Black Lives Matter Sacramento called it a police murder and demanded answers.

City Councilman Larry Carr decried the loss of life and said police must provide timely information. The department is required to release video from the helicopter and the officers’ body cameras within 30 days.