Stephon Clark was shot eight times, with six of those bullets striking him in the back. He was unarmed and standing in his own backyard when officers from Sacramento Police Department fatally shot him, mistaking his cellphone for a gun.
The 22-year-old African-American father’s senseless killing once again sparked nationwide protests over police brutality and use of excessive force against people of color. People across the country questioned if it was now unsafe for black men to even stand their own backyard, demanding justice for Clark and countless others like him.
They officers were reportedly responding to reports of a man breaking into vehicles when they noticed Clark and opened fire. Now, recently released police videos of his shooting show officers involved in the incident waited nearly five minutes before delivering any lifesaving medical aid to the victim.
The reason behind the delay: the cops were concerned if Clark was armed and if he was only pretending to be dead after being shot at 20 times.
The Sacramento Police Department released a trove of new material pertaining to the shooting, including 15 hours of video footage from 23 in-car camera videos, 28 body-worn camera videos and a sheriff's helicopter video. Two 911 audio clips have also been released – one of which reportedly came from Clark’s own grandfather who was worried someone was beating on his window but he couldn’t get out of his bed. Both of his legs have been amputated because of diabetes, according to the family.
The new footage, which starts from officers responding to the complaint and ends at officials pronouncing Clark dead, showed how the cops discussed approaching the man they had just shot.
“He have a gun?” a male officer could be heard saying, to which the other officers responded by saying they hadn’t secured it yet.
“I don't see it,” one said. “He hasn't moved at all.”
A few moments later, the officers began shouting at Clark.
“Hey! Can you hear us?”
“Police Department, can you hear us?”
“We need to know if you're OK.”
Then, a female officer told the unmoving victim they can’t help him until they know he is unarmed.
"We need to get you medics but we can't go over to get you help unless we know you're, you don't have your weapon,” she said, before addressing her colleagues. “Let’s have the next unit get, just bring a non-lethal in case he's pretending.”
Seconds later, one of the officers said, “Like this, something in his hands, it looked like a gun from our perspective.”
Only a cellphone was found near Clark’s body.
It was a few moments later that the officers finally approached Clark and performed chest compressions on him before declaring him unresponsive. The victim appeared to be in handcuffs.
Another video showed a group of police officers muting their cameras – something that has already drawn severe criticism after first batch of shooting videos were made public.
While it’s impossible to say if a quicker medical response would have been enough to save Clark’s life, police spokesman Sgt. Vance Chandler said the authorities will now examine if the officers were quick enough to administer the CPR.
“That’s part of our investigation, looking at when aid was rendered,” he said. “We will look at if it was appropriate given the circumstances.”
The video has raised serious questions about police’s initial response, with people wondering if the police could have saved Clark’s life or at least increased the chances of his survival had they acted much quickly to deliver medical aid.
Video in MURDER by CA COPS of Stephon Clark; statement made by activist who, polices police. Police DID NOT approach Mr. Clark for 5 minutes,“The five minutes lapse in time, I’m not sure if it would have saved the life of Stephon Clark, but it would have increased the chances,”??— DeSha-Justin's momma (@desha1) April 17, 2018
and I pray to God in those 5 minutes your heart doesn’t cease or your photo ends up on Facebook because someone waited five minutes, five long minutes to save your life #stephonclark— Sidd Long (@SiddLong) April 17, 2018
Bro that extra footage released about Stephon Clark is heartbreaking. Paramedics and police officers said he was “pretending” to be dead so they waited to give him cpr smfh.— Josh (@mulaapronto) April 18, 2018
Stephon Clark died alone, even with those officers present.— Marcus Philippus (@EPluribusMarcus) April 18, 2018
In his final minutes of life, he did not hear the reassuring voice of someone telling him that help is on the way, and asking him to hold on.
That is disheartening. #StephonClark
Thumbnail/Banner Credits: Jeff Chiu/Pool via Reuters