The Mayor of Sacramento is pushing back on authorized use of deadly force after it was determined that the 2 officers who shot and killed Stephon Clark in 2018 will not be facing criminal charges associated with his death.
Mayor Darrell Steinberg announced on Saturday that he is once again pushing for the laws surrounding officer-involved shootings to be changed.
“I believe that that standard needs to be changed,” Steinberg said in an address to the Clark family. “I think the question must be, was the shooting preventable?”
Stephon Clark, 22, was killed last March when officers responded to a call of a man breaking into cars. When the officers attempted to contact Clark, he ran into his grandmother’s backyard, where he refused to comply with the officers’ orders. Body cam footage showed the officers screaming “Show me your hands! Gun! Show me your hands! Gun, gun, gun!” The officers then fired their service weapons, hitting Clark 7 times and killing him. The item in Clark’s hands turned out to be an iPhone, creating massive countrywide controversy.
Breaking News: Sacramento police officers who fatally shot Stephon Clark after apparently mistaking his cellphone for a gun will not face criminal charges, prosecutors announce https://t.co/adPOFabdwz
— Los Angeles Times (@latimes) March 2, 2019
Helicopter footage additionally showed Clark advancing toward the officers before they began firing.
District Attorney Anne Marie Schubert stated this weekend that, “Under the laws directing officers’ use of force, police were justified in using deadly force against Clark.”
For the last few years, officers have fallen under insurmountable scrutiny in the public eye. The news media and activists on social media have crucified members of the force time and again, creating a massive divide between the public and those holding the thin blue line. Advancements like the addition of body cams for officers across the country has helped offer insight to whether a shooting was justified or not.
WATCH: Sacramento District Attorney Anne Marie Schubert describes Stephon Clark's toxicology report. She then went on to say the mother of Clark's children called 911 two days prior to his death to report a domestic violence incident. https://t.co/XVmdtT2n6a pic.twitter.com/8qtKbyx3LQ
— NBC Bay Area (@nbcbayarea) March 2, 2019
As the law currently stands in most states, officers are authorized to administer deadly force if they are in fear for their lives. This has drawn criticism for the public, with the opposition claiming that it’s too subjective to be accurately measured. But if the laws change, we will undoubtedly see a rise in line of duty deaths, as officers will naturally second-guess themselves in situations that require split-second decision-making.
“Today’s announcement only deepens our commitment to transformational community policing and better training,” the mayor said. “Today’s announcement only deepens our commitment to changing the legal standard from whether a shooting was reasonable to whether it could have been prevented. Today’s announcement only deepens our commitment to making sustained and meaningful investments in our neighborhoods and our young people.”
Assembly Bill 392 “would redefine the circumstances under which a homicide by a peace officer is deemed justifiable.”
“Stephon would be alive today if the officers had followed this policy,” said Jamilia Land, a member of California Families United for Justice who is advocating for the bill. “So would Mario Woods and Oscar Grant and Alex Neito and Sahleem Tindle and Willie McCoy and far too many others, mostly young men of color,” she finished.