Feds decline to charge officers in death of Stephon Clark

Feds decline to charge officers in death of Stephon Clark
Stevante Clark via CNN
Stephon Clark

Federal authorities said Thursday they will not file civil rights charges against two Sacramento, California, police officers who fatally shot Stephon Clark in his grandmother’s backyard last year.

The Sacramento Police Department also cleared the officers of any wrongdoing and is returning them to active duty.

“After a careful and thorough review into the facts surrounding the shooting, federal investigators and prosecutors determined that there is insufficient evidence to prove beyond a reasonable doubt a violation of the federal statute,” the U.S. Attorney’s Office said in a statement. “Accordingly, the investigation into this incident has been closed.”

The U.S. Attorney’s Office, the FBI and prosecutors in the Civil Rights Division reviewed the killing of Clark on March 18, 2018, the statement said.

“Federal authorities also reviewed all of the evidence generated by the Sacramento Police Department, the Sacramento County District Attorney’s Office, and the California Department of Justice in earlier investigations, including witness statements, audio and video recordings, dispatch records, police reports, and autopsy reports, and gathered additional evidence pertinent to the federal investigation,” it said.

Clark, 22, was shot seven times. The officers who shot him were responding to a report that a man had broken car windows and was hiding in a backyard, authorities have said.

The officers said they believed he was pointing a gun at them, police have said. Clark was carrying a cell phone, investigators determined.

The officers were not charged with crimes, a decision that prompted protests when local prosecutors announced it in March.

Officers return to ‘full, active duty’

After the federal announcement Thursday, Sacramento Police Chief Daniel Hahn said the department also cleared the officers of any wrongdoing.

“The use of deadly force was lawful,” Hahn said. “Our internal investigation concluded that there were no violations of department policy or training. The officers involved in this case will return to full, active duty.”

They had been put on desk duty since the shooting, the Sacramento Bee newspaper reported.

Family protests ‘killer cops on our streets’

Clark’s brother, Stevante Clark, spoke Thursday at a press conference.

“We still want people to be held accountable. We don’t want killer cops on our streets, and we will continue to fight for justice,” he said. “Until justice becomes a reality in not just our community but in communities all over the United States of America, this fight will just continue.”

Clark’s killing became a symbol of strained relations between police and residents in California’s capital. It was one of several cases nationwide that raised questions about police using deadly force against African-Americans.

The city of Sacramento agreed to pay $2.4 million to Stephon Clark’s two sons, now 5 and 2.

CNN’s Dan Simon and Michelle Krupa contributed to this report.