The two police officers who shot and killed Stephon Clark while he was unarmed will not face criminal charges. In a statement on Saturday, Sacramento County District Attorney Anne Marie Schubert said the officers “acted lawfully under the circumstances.”
Schubert said the officers, Terrence Mercadal and Jared Robinet, who shot the 22-year-old black man, firing 20 rounds, feared for their lives last March when they mistook a white and pink cellphone Clark was holding for a gun. Clark was shot eight times, and six bullets hit his back. None entered the front of his body, an independent autopsy revealed.
“The evidence in this case demonstrates that both officers had an honest and reasonable belief that they were in imminent danger of death or great bodily injury. Therefore, the shooting of Mr. Clark was lawful and no criminal charges will be filed,” Schubert wrote in the report.
“I think our community is really hurting right now,” Pastor Les Simmons, from Sacramento Area Congregations Together, told the Los Angeles Times. “This is not the justice the community was looking for.”
Another review of the indictment, conducted by state Attorney General Xavier Becerra, will be released “soon,” the office told the Times, adding that it will not be released today.
Part of the reason the officers could not be charged is the way the laws are currently written. Clark’s brother, Stevante Clark, is lobbying for legislation that would make it easier to prosecute police in similar shootings. Clark’s family has also filed a wrongful death suit against the city. They are asking for $35 million in damages.
“It is not right, it is not right,” Clark’s mother, Sequette Clark, told reporters at a press gathering outside the Clark family home moments after the decision was made public, according to the Sacramento Bee. “This is just the beginning – the fight for justice. The fight will begin now.”