Family Files Lawsuit Against St. Louis and Its Police Over Shooting Death of Black Army Veteran During No-Knock Warrant Execution

·3 min read
Son of Black Army veteran Don Clark Sr. speaks to reporters about his father’s death at the hands of St. Louis police.
Son of Black Army veteran Don Clark Sr. speaks to reporters about his father’s death at the hands of St. Louis police.

Just over three years before Breonna Taylor was shot and killed by police officers executing a no-knock warrant, a 63-year-old Black Army veteran was killed in St. Louis during the same type of operation. The case is eerily similar to that of Taylor’s, according to a federal lawsuit filed Wednesday by the victim’s family.

The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports that the lawsuit over the Feb. 21, 2017 shooting death of Don Clark Sr. names the city of St. Louis and more than 20 of its police officers as defendants. The suit was filed on behalf of Clark’s family by attorneys for the civil rights group ArchCity Defenders and it alleges that warrants were obtained illegally, that the victim was shot while he was sleeping and that authorities had no reason to target his home in the first place—all of which bears striking resemblance to the details revolving around Taylor’s case.

Read more

Clark’s home was reportedly one of three on the same block that was raided that night as a result of a months-long drug investigation, but the lawsuit alleges that there was no reason for authorities to believe drugs were being bought or sold in the home and that the officer who obtained the warrant was deceptive.

From the Post-Dispatch:

The lawsuit contends a St. Louis officer, Thomas Strode, used lies or bogus information and boilerplate language to obtain the search warrant for the home of Donald “Don” R. Clark Sr. Another city officer, Nicholas Manasco, shot Clark after officers broke down the door and tossed a “flash bang” diversionary device inside the home on the evening of Feb. 21, 2017, the suit says.

“Having to just deal with figuring out what had transpired just made me angry, and I’ve been angry ever since. I just feel robbed. My family was robbed,” Ashley Boureima Mourou, one of Clark’s children, said Wednesday at a news conference announcing the lawsuit.

Clark, a U.S. Army veteran who used a cane and suffered from diabetes, poor eyesight, poor hearing and other health problems, slept in the front room of the one-bedroom home, opposite the front door, the suit says.

The suit also claims that officers didn’t immediately render aid after shooting Clark, who died later at the hospital.

Emanuel Powell, an ArchCity attorney, said that “It is completely impossible to believe” that Clark was involved with drugs and that the victim himself “was afraid of the crime that was happening in his neighborhood.”

Clark’s son, Don Clark Jr., told Fox 2 that the night of his father’s death was the last time he spoke to him and that Clark Sr. was looking forward to a visit from him and his family the following day.

“I was robbed out of that,” Clark Jr. said, adding that “We need to hold the people that say they’re going to continue to protect us to have accountability.”

According to the Post-Dispatch, police at the time said that officers announced themselves before using a battering ram on the door of Clark’s home. They also said that a shot was fired from inside the home, that they responded to the shot with a flashbang, and that they didn’t return fire until another shot had been fired.

Authorities also said they found two handguns, heroin and marijuana in Clark’s home. It’s unclear if either of the guns were found on Clark’s person at the time.

Just in case there weren’t already enough parallels between Clark’s case and Taylor’s, Clark Jr. has disputed the cops’ claims saying that if his father fired a shot it was in self-defense because he had no idea who was breaking into his house.

The lawsuit seeks unspecified damages for claims that include unlawful search, use of excessive force and civil rights violations.