(Reuters) – Prosecutors will not file criminal charges against two police officers involved in the shooting death in Sacramento, California, of Stephon Clark, an unarmed black man who was killed nearly a year ago, officials said on Saturday.
Clark, 22, was gunned down on March 18, 2018, in his grandparents’ backyard after police responded to a report that someone was breaking car windows. Police said the officers who shot Clark seven times feared he was holding a firearm, but that he had only a cellphone.
Clark’s death, like other fatal police shootings of black men, sparked anger and added fuel to a national debate on police force against unarmed black people.
Sacramento District Attorney Anne Marie Schubert told reporters on Saturday that video evidence confirmed Clark was involved in a series of car break-ins that day, which prompted a police search. Officers later discovered Clark near his grandparents’ home, and he fled into the backyard.
Schubert said Clark advanced on the officers in the backyard despite their telling him to stop and was in a “shooting stance with his arm extended” during the incident.
“As a result, we will not charge these officers with any criminal activity,” Schubert said. “There is no question that the death of Stephon Clark is a tragedy not just for this family but for this community,” she added.
Along with video from body-worn cameras, Schubert said investigators used helicopter cameras, surveillance footage, 911 dispatch recordings, cell phone evidence, photos and witness testimonies.
The incident sparked demonstrations in California’s capital city for at least two weeks.
Members of Clark’s family filed a lawsuit in January against the police officers and the city of Sacramento for wrongful death, claiming racial profiling and use of excessive force.
Reporting by Gina Cherelus; Additional reporting by Dan Whitcomb; Editing by Daniel Wallis and Leslie Adler