Unarmed man Stephon Clark shot 8 times by police from behind or the side, autopsy finds
Stephon Clark, a 22-year-old unarmed black man who was shot to death by the Sacramento police in his grandmother’s backyard, was struck eight times by police bullets either from behind or the side, according to an independent autopsy commissioned by his family.
Dr. Bennet Omalu, the forensic pathologist who conducted the autopsy, concluded that Clark’s death was not instantaneous, taking an estimated three to 10 minutes.
“There were a total of eight gunshot wounds,” Omalu told reporters at a press conference Friday. “You could reasonably conclude that he received seven gunshot wounds from his back. He was shot from the back.”
Omalu is well-known for his research on chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) in professional football players, and he is the co-founder of the Brain Injury Research Institute. He said Clark was shot four times in the lower part of his back, twice in his neck and once under an armpit. He was also shot in the leg and one of the neck wounds was from the side, Omalu said.
“Each one of these bullets independently possessed a fatal capacity,” he told reporters.
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Benjamin Crump, a lawyer representing the Clark family, said the findings “contradict” earlier statements from police who said the young man was a threat to officers.
“These findings from the independent autopsy contradict the police narrative that we’ve been told,” Crump said in a statement. “This independent autopsy affirms that Stephon was not a threat to police and was slain in another senseless police killing under increasingly questionable circumstances.”
Clark was killed on the evening of March 18 in his grandparents’ backyard after police responded to a report that someone was smashing car windows. Police have said that officers fired more than 20 times at Clark, who was feared to be holding a firearm. Investigators later determined he had been holding a cellphone.
The death of the father of two from Sacramento was the latest in a long string of fatal police killings of black men that have touched off protests across the United States and led to a national debate about bias in the U.S. criminal justice system.
Friday’s findings come one day after dozens of protesters gathered outside the Sacramento County District Attorney’s Office, holding signs such as “Prosecute” and “Justice for Stephon Clark.”
At the funeral service for Clark held Thursday, civil rights leader Rev. Al Sharpton addressed a congregation of hundreds.
“We’re going to make (U.S. President) Donald Trump and the whole world deal with the issue of police misconduct,” he said.
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White House spokeswoman Sarah Sanders had called the shooting a “local matter” when questioned by reporters earlier in the day.
“No, this is not a local matter — they’ve been killing young black men all over the country,” Sharpton said.
He pointed to the peaceful protests that followed Clark’s death across the U.S.
“They’re not being violent. They’re asking for you to stop being violent to them,” Sharpton said. “They’re not trying to hurt anybody. They’re trying to express their pain.”
California Attorney General Xavier Becerra has said state investigators will oversee the investigation and review the Police Department’s procedures and practices.
*With files from Reuters.
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