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California cops shot dead an unarmed black man in his own backyard, bodycam footage revealed

Junie Sihlangu
Mar 22, 2018
09:32 A.M.

A black man was shot dead in his family’s backyard when police mistook him for a suspect they were looking for. Stephon Clark was shot after police thought he was holding a gun.

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According to BuzzFeed News, the incident occurred on March 18, 2018. Police thought Clark was a burglar who was breaking into people’s cars after they received a tip-off from a neighbor.

Stephon Clark, 22, was identified to reporters by his family. He was declared dead at the scene this past Sunday.

Two officers each fired 10 rounds according to a police spokesperson. It was unclear how many times Clark was hit, pending the results of an autopsy.

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The two officers were responding to a call from a neighbor reporting a man breaking car windows and hiding in a backyard. On Wednesday evening, March 21, 2018, detectives released audio and video from the officers' body cameras during the shooting.

They also released footage from a sheriff's department helicopter overhead. A department spokesperson revealed that detectives were still investigating the incident that led up to the shooting.

They were also investigating who was responsible for the damaged vehicles. In one bodycam video, the officer could be heard shouting at the suspect to stop and show them his hands.

Clark could be seen running away from them toward the backyard. Then the policeman shouts again to him to show them his hands before assuming that he was holding a gun.

“The officers gave the suspect commands to stop and show his hands. The suspect immediately fled from the officers and ran towards the back of the home."

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Police statement, BuzzFeed News, March 22, 2018

That’s when the police start firing several rounds. Helicopter footage starts with the officers in the helicopter saying that the suspect had just broken a window and was now running south.

A figure could be seen jumping a fence and walking toward another car parked alongside a house, where officers were seen approaching. The figure then turns and runs into the backyard, where he collapses on the ground as an officer says over the radio that shots were fired.

The residence where police approached Clark is the house where he lived with his grandparents and siblings. Police claimed that when they confronted Clark he turned back around to face them and extended something toward them that they thought was a gun.

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Police then held their positions for five minutes before trying to resuscitate him. On Tuesday, March 20, 2018, city council members asked about the five-minute delay to which Police Chief Daniel Hahn said it was still under investigation.

Authorities only found a cell phone at the scene and no weapon or toolbar as had been suspected. A cinder block and piece of foil were also found outside a neighbor's shattered glass door.

Clark's aunt, Shernita Crosby, disputed the police department's claim that he had faced the officers and held an object toward them. She told KTXL he had been shot in the back.

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Clark’s grandmother, SequitaThompson, told the Sacramento Bee that her grandson and others would often knock on the back window of the house. They knocked there to ask her or her husband to let them in through the garage door.

The garage door was used as the main entrance because of their poor mobility and a broken front doorbell. "I have to wake up every morning to my kids asking me, 'Where's daddy? Let's go get daddy,'" Salena Manni, Clark's girlfriend, told ABC 10.

The shooting is currently being investigated by the police department, along with the Sacramento County District Attorney’s Office, the Sacramento City Attorney’s Office, and the city’s Office of Public Safety Accountability.

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