U.S. Attorney McGregor W. Scott and FBI agent Sean Ragan said on Thursday, Sept. 26, that their investigation into the fatal shooting of Stephon Clark, a 22-year-old black man, has been closed.
Federal authorities announced that a review of Clark’s 2018 shooting of Clark found “insufficient evidence” to pursue civil rights charges against two officers Terrance Mercadal and Jared Robinet. Both will be returned to active duty, according to The Associated Press.
In March 2018, the two officers, one black and the other white, were pursuing Clark after receiving calls about a man breaking car windows and an elderly neighbor’s sliding glass door in the area, according to Fox News.
Clark was shot seven times in his grandparent’s backyard in Sacramento’s Meadowview neighborhood after he ran from officers. Authorities said that the officers believed Clark was advancing toward them with a gun in hand, which was later determined to be a cellphone.
Clark’s death sparked a year’s worth of protests as civil rights groups claimed that race played a role in the shooting.
In March 2019, Sacramento County District Attorney Anne Marie Schubert announced during a press conference that the two officers did not break any laws in the deadly shooting. Attorney General Xavier Becerra said then evidence showed the officers had reason to believe their lives were in danger.
“There’s no question that a human being died,” Schubert said during the press conference. “But when we look at the facts and the law, and we follow our ethical responsibilities, the answer to that question is no. And as a result, we will not charge these officers with any criminal liability related to the shooting death and the use of force on Stephon Clark.”
The Sacramento Bee reported that the city of Sacramento in June agreed to a tentative $20 million settlement in a lawsuit filed on behalf of Clark’s minor sons, parents, and grandparents.
Sacramento police announced on Thursday that their internal investigation did not find any policy or training violations, and released all documentation related to the investigation on their website. They also released all videos related to their investigation on the shooting, ABC10 reported.
“This incident has been thoroughly investigated by law enforcement agencies at the local, state, and federal levels. Every one of these independent examinations has reached the same finding—the use of deadly force, in this case, was lawful,” Sacramento Police Chief Daniel Hahn said in a statement. “Although no policy violations occurred in this incident or in the events leading up to it, we are committed to implementing strategies that may prevent similar tragedies in the future.”
The results of the FBI’s investigation did not meet with the Clark family’s expectation. Clark’s brother, Stevante Clark, posted on Facebook Thursday that he was in a meeting with federal and local authorities.
“These people have failed when it comes to #Accountability,” he wrote.
“My brother was killed, unarmed, in my grandmother’s backyard, and the same cop who killed him is back on the streets patrolling other communities, running through other people’s backyards,” Stevante told ABC10 Thursday afternoon. “I’m uneasy with that. My heart is broken.”
Stevante said that his family’s fight for justice is not over despite the results of this investigation.
Sacramento’s Mayor Darrell Steinberg issued a statement:
“This incident has been investigated at every level and each agency came to the same conclusion. Those conclusions, however, will never change the fact that this was a tragedy and the Clark family lost a loved one.”
“As a city and as a police department, we have made many important changes. We changed our foot pursuit policy, our body-worn camera policy and will continue to make the changes necessary to make our city safer for our community and our officers.”
According to The Associated Press, the nation’s oldest law governing police use of deadly force was updated by lawmakers last month, making it now among the country’s most comprehensive when combined with additional training. The new law, which takes effect Jan. 1, will allow police to use deadly force only when “necessary” to defend against an imminent threat of death or serious injury to officers or bystanders.