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No charges for police who shot 22-year-old California man

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) -- Two Sacramento police officers won’t face criminal charges for the fatal shooting of a black man following a chase that ended in his grandparents’ yard and started a series of angry protests that roiled California’s capital city, the county’s top prosecutor announced Saturday following a nearly yearlong investigation.
Officers Terrance Mercadal and Jared Robinet acted within the law when they shot 22-year-old Stephon Clark seven times, Sacramento County District Attorney Anne Marie Schubert concluded, noting that the evidence supported their account that Clark was moving toward them when they opened fire.

Sequette Clark (centre) the mother of police shooting victim Stephon Clark, discusses the decision not to prosecute the two Sacramento Police officers involved, during a news conference in Sacramento, Calif. --Photo AP

Schubert said the evidence, including their reactions captured on body cameras, supported the officers’ statements that they thought Clark was pointing a gun.
It turned out Clark was holding only a cellphone. His family and their supporters expressed anger and disappointment, and accused Schubert of unnecessarily revealing grim details of Clark’s personal life.
“Whatever his character is or his actions prior to those officers gunning him down, is no one’s business,” said Clark’s mother, SeQuette, who had a brief and contentious meeting with Schubert before the DA made her announcement. “It’s not justification. That’s not a permit to kill him.”
Schubert said the decision not to file charges against the officers “does not diminish in any way the tragedy, the anger and the frustration that we heard since the time of his death.
“We cannot ignore that there is rage within our community.”
Before Schubert had finished speaking, about 100 people were protesting peacefully in chilly rain outside Sacramento’s police headquarters.
The shooting last March prompted a series of larger demonstrations and protesters twice disrupted games for the NBA’s Sacramento Kings — once when they blocked thousands of fans from leaving the arena and another time when they blocked fans from entering. That game was played in a nearly empty arena.
During an hour-long presentation where she delved into minute details of the investigation and explained her legal reasoning, Schubert repeatedly apologised for raising the personal details.
Schubert revealed Clark was facing possible jail time after a domestic violence complaint two days earlier from Salena Manni, the mother of his children. He also had researched suicide websites including those that suggested using the tranquilizer Xanax, which was among several drugs found in his system after his death.
The district attorney stopped short of saying that Clark was attempting to kill himself, but said “a jury would be able to consider that evidence.”
“I can’t tell ultimately what was going on in his mind,” Schubert said. “He was in a state of despair and he was impaired, and that may have affected his judgment.”
The disclosures brought additional outcries from Clark’s relatives and protest leaders. They said the details weren’t relevant to whether the officers acted properly.
Black Lives Matter leader Tanya Faison said she did not realistically expect Schubert to criminally charge the officers, but “we did not expect her to go so low to mention something that happened two days prior, to show personal text messages between him and the mother of his children, to show that he contemplated suicide. ... Those officers didn’t know any of that when they had him in the backyard and they killed him.”
SeQuette Clark held out the hope that her son’s death would result in systemic change, a hope echoed by statements from California Gov. Gavin Newsom, legislative leaders, Sacramento’s mayor and black religious leaders who urged protesters to channel their anger into positive steps.
“This is just the beginning. The fight for justice has just begun,” Clark’s mother said at a news conference held in the home outside of which her son was killed. Later, Clark’s grandmother, Sequita Thompson, was taken by ambulance to a hospital after falling ill. No details on her condition were available.
Several officials supported pending state legislation that would allow police to use deadly force only if there is no reasonable alternative, including non-lethal force or efforts to calm the situation. Newsom did not address the bill, but called for “systemic reforms that reduce inequities, increase community confidence in our criminal justice system, and that reinforce the sanctity of human life.”


(Latest Update
March 4,
2019)


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