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Manny Otiko |California Black Media
Almost two weeks of protests over the shooting of Stephon Clark has had a result. Today two California legislators revealed a bill that would restrict the police’s ability to use deadly force.
Assemblymember Dr. Shirley Weber (D-San Diego) and Kevin McCarty (D-Sacramento) announced they had co-sponsored Assembly Bill 931, legislation that requires police to use lethal force, only when justified. AB 931 was sponsored by groups such as the ACLU and Black Lives Matter Sacramento. Currently, police are allowed to shoot suspects “if they feel threatened,” which can lead to several gray areas.
Weber, who was surrounded by members of the California Legislative Black Caucus, co-sponsors of the bill and community activists, said recent shootings have shown police seem to have a double standard when it comes to black and white suspects.
“How could Stephon Clark be killed but the Parkland shooter be taken alive?” said Weber.
She was referring to Nikolas Cruz, who killed 17 people at a high school in Parkland, Fla. recently. Cruz was taken into custody alive. Clark, who was unarmed, was killed within minutes of Sacramento police arriving.
She added that police treatment of Cruz and other non-black suspects proved that they were perfectly capable of using non-lethal force when it was needed.
Assemblymember Chris Holden (D-Pasadena), chair of the California Legislative Black Caucus, said police shootings of unarmed black people was not a problem unique to California. He listed several familiar names, such as Oscar Grant, Philando Castile, Eric Garner and Tamir Rice, black men who were killed by police.
Betty Williams, president of the Sacramento NAACP chapter, described AB 931 as a “great step forward.”
Weber added that California, one of the nation’s most progressive states, should be leading the way in changing police policy.
In 2017, police shot and killed 162 people in California, only half of whom were armed with guns. California police departments have some of the highest rates of killings in the nation: Bakersfield, Stockton, Long Beach, Santa Ana and San Bernardino are all in the top 15. Police in Kern County have killed more people per capita than in any other US county, according to a 2015 report.
“It’s time for California to modernize our century-old deadly force standard,” said Assemblymember Kevin McCarty. “Our current law enforcement use of force threshold does not work. Revising California’s use of force standard will help law enforcement transition to a police system that can prevent the deaths of unarmed individuals and build much needed public confidence in how we keep all our communities safe.”
Stephon Clark Shot Six Times In The Black
By Antonio R. Harvey | California Black Media
SACRAMENTO - The family of Stephon Clark’s independent autopsy revealed that the 22-year-old man was shot eight times by two Sacramento police officers in the backyard of his grandmother’s house on March 18.
Six of the bullets hit Clark in the back, said forensic pathologist Dr. Bennet Omalu, who conducted the examination. Clark also suffered gunshot wounds to his right side and left thigh. The Sacramento County Coroner’s Office has yet to release its autopsy report.
Dr. Omalu, along with the Clark family attorney Benjamin Crump, explained the examination, done in two increments, at a news conference held at the South Sacramento Christian Center. Dr. Omula said his findings “contradict” the police officers’ version.
He partly based his results on a video of Sacramento County sheriff’s helicopter that caught moving images of the shooting. The officers responsible for the shooting were wearing body cameras that were distorted from the view on the ground.
The autopsy was completed on March 28, Dr. Omalu said.
“I saw the video from the helicopter (March 29),” Dr. Omalu said. “The autopsy findings, as confirmed, would be consistent with the video documentation of the forensic scenario.”
The police say they were in pursuit of Clark after they received a 911 call of someone breaking windows of cars in the area around 29th Street and Florin Road.
Clark was shot and killed in the backyard of his grandmother’s house. The grandmother was inside the house with Clark’s little sister. Stephon Clark was shot at 20 times.
“Death took about three to 10 minutes,” Dr. Omalu said of Clark’s fate. “Meaning that out of all seven, all he need to have died was just one of the seven (bullets). It was not an instantaneous death.”
The police first said Clark had a crowbar, and then a gun when they confronted him in the backyard. It was later reported that Clark was unarmed and with a cell phone. One of the police unions released a statement that the father of two boys was in a “shooting stance,” which triggered them to use force.
Crump said the officers’ accounts “contradict” Dr. Omalu’s examination.
“The narrative has been put forth was they open fire because he was charging at them,” Crump said during the news conference. “Dr. Omalu’s findings and the family autopsy, it suggests all the bullets were from behind.”
After the news conference, Crump was asked if he knew what type of bullets and weapons were used in the shooting.
“I do not know at this time,” Crump said.
Dr. Omalu is renowned for discovering Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy, CTE, in former football players. Actor Will Smith portrayed the Nigerian-born medical doctor in the film, “Concussion.”
Dr. Omalu just left the San Joaquin County Coroner’s Office after he felt that the sheriff’s department in that jurisdiction was allegedly interfering with the results of officer-involved shootings. Dr. Omalu resides in the Sacramento area.
After his findings were revealed in front of many local community leaders, they thought of murder charges emerged for the police officers responsible for Clark’s death.
“The narrative that they’ve (Sacramento police) painted does not match the autopsy that we see today,” said Rashid Sidqe, member of the Law Enforcement Accountability Directive. “I look forward to hearing their response to this and their coroner’s report. But we need prosecution in this case. It speaks for itself.”
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