Family Members, Civil Rights Leaders Call for Justice for Stephon Clark

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Stephon Clark's grandmother, Sequita Thompson, speaks along with civil rights attorney Benjamin Crump at a press conference on Monday March 26, 2018. (Katie Orr/KQED)

Civil rights leaders joined the family of Stephon Clark in Sacramento Monday to speak out about the police shooting death of the unarmed black man on March 18.

Clark’s grandmother sobbed and asked why police officers shot and killed her 22-year-old grandson in the backyard of her home instead of using a taser or dog to subdue him. Police fired at Clark 20 times.

"They didn't have to shoot him like that," she said. "They didn't have to shoot him that many times."

It’s a question civil rights leaders are asking, too. Alice Huffman, president of the California Hawaii NAACP, said she wants a change to state law to allow for independent investigations of certain police shootings.

“He didn’t have a gun, they didn’t taser him, they were in the dark," she said. "There are so many things in here that are irregular. It should automatically go to an independent investigator.”

An Assembly bill that would have allowed for independent investigations was watered down and then stalled in committee last year.


Police were looking for a person breaking into cars in a south Sacramento neighborhood when they confronted Clark. Officers said they thought he had a gun, but Clark was carrying only a cellphone.

Civil rights attorney Benjamin Crump is representing Clark's family. He said police executed Clark. And he pointed to the recent school shootings in Parkland, Florida, as an example of how white suspects are treated differently by police.

"People who committed a mass shooting in Florida were not shot once, but a young black man holding a cellphone is shot 20 times," Crump said.

Protests over Clark's shooting are planned for the next several days in Sacramento. His funeral will be held Thursday morning. The Rev. Al Sharpton will give the eulogy.