Al Sharpton called for police to be held accountable Saturday on his MSNBC show Politics Nation, after prosecutors in Sacramento announced they would not charge the officers who fatally shot Stephon Clark, an unarmed African-American man.
Sacramento County District Attorney Anne Marie Schubert held a news conference Saturday afternoon saying Officers Terrance Mercadal and Jared Robinet lawfully used lethal force when they killed Clark last March.
“There’s no question that a human being died,” Schubert told reporters. “But, when we look at the facts and the law, and we follow our ethical responsibilities… we will not charge these officers with any criminal liability related to the shooting death and use of force on Stephon Clark.”
Shortly after the announcement, Sharpton tweeted a clip from his show about the Clark case and the 2016 police shooting of Terence Crutcher in Tulsa, Oklahoma saying, “Accountability will help to repair community relations. There must be justice and transparency.”
Sacramento officers shot Clark eight times after he entered his grandmother’s backyard on March 18, 2018. Police said at the time that the officers were responding to reports of someone breaking into vehicles in the area. They followed 22-year-old Clark into his grandmother’s yard and said he was holding what appeared to be gun, but instead turned out to be a cell phone. The officers fired 20 shots, and he was struck eight times.
The lawyer representing Clark’s children accused the DA of being an “advocate” for the officers.
“It was clear today that the Sacramento District Attorney had chosen to advocate for officers Terrance Mercadal and Jared Robinet rather than the victim, Stephon Clark,” attorney Brian Panish said in a statement. “It’s unfortunate that justice for Stephon and his family must now be decided and delivered by a civil court.”
Dr. Bennet Omalu — subject of the Will Smith film Concussion — conducted an independent autopsy for Clark’s family, and said police shot him seven times from behind.
The official autopsy, later made public, disputed Omalu’s findings and stated that Clark was likely approaching the officers when he was shot, consistent with the police report.
Clark’s death sparked protests across the nation last year, and drew condemnation from celebrities, including former Sacramento resident and retired LA Lakers player Matt Barnes, who shared a poster on Instagram after the shooting saying: “Being black is not a crime!”