California Police Shoot Dead Unarmed Black Man in His Own Backyard

Police in Sacramento, California shot and killed an unarmed black man in his grandmother's backyard because they believed he was pointing a gun at them, police said.

(Photo: Facebook)

In their initial press release regarding the incident, police said officers were responding to a report of someone breaking car windows near the home where a man, later identified as 22-year-old Stephon Clark, lived with his grandparents and siblings. A thin, 6-foot-1 black man was said to be hiding in a residential backyard.

Authorities in a Sacramento Sheriff's Department helicopter reported seeing Clark in a backyard. Those authorities told officers they saw Clark pick up a "toolbar" and use it to break a window in the residence. Clark then allegedly ran toward the front of the house and began looking into another car.

In video recorded by two officers' body cameras and from the helicopter, police yelled, "Hey, show me your hands. Stop. Stop."

As police officers approached Clark, they ordered him to stop and show his hands, but that instead Clark ran toward the backyard away from police.

Two police officers chased Clark into the backyard.

"Show me your hands!" one of the officers yelled. "Gun, gun, gun."

Then police opened fire, CNN reports. Clark crumpled to the ground and momentarily tried to crawl before falling motionless as more shots erupted around him.

"The officers believed the suspect was pointing a firearm at them. Fearing for their safety, the officers fired their duty weapons, striking the suspect multiple times," the police news release states.

The body camera footage is dark and shaky. The helicopter pivots, blocking the aerial view of Clark and the two police officers in the brief seconds leading up to gunfire.

Officers held their position for about five minutes, according to the press release, until more officers arrived before approaching Clark, handcuffing him and beginning lifesaving efforts.

The Sacramento Bee reports the officers fired at Clark 20 times.

Fire department personnel pronounced Clark dead at the scene.

In an updated press release, police said that there was no firearm located at the scene of the shooting, contrary to what officers said they thought when they shot at Clark 20 times. They found only his cellphone.

The officers involved in the shooting have been placed on paid leave.


Clark's grandmother said she was inside the house when the shots were fired and saw him with an iPhone.

"He was right there dead," Sequita Thompson told the Sacramento Bee. "I told the officers, you guys are murderers, murderers, murderers."