SACRAMENTO, Calif. – The grandmother of an unarmed black man killed by Sacramento police called Monday for changes in the way the police to confront suspects, such as sending a police dog, a Taser, or is intended for an arm or leg when shots.
Sequita Thompson said at an emotional press conference that the police do not need to shoot on a 22-year-old Stephon Clark 20 times to kill him in her dark backyard March 18.
“They didn’t have to kill him if they didn’t have to shoot him that many times,” she said, through sobs, about the night of his murder. She believes Clark was in the backyard trying to get into the house that he shared with his grandparents and other family members when he was shot.
He is the last prominent faces of young black men killed by police nationwide, said the family of renowned civil rights lawyer, Benjamin Crump. He called it an “execution” of a man who “chose non-violence” and was found with only a mobile phone and not the gun of the police thought he was aiming in their direction.
The members of the Sacramento Kings and the Boston Celtics NBA-teams took up his cause Sunday, wearing Clark’s name on a black warm-up T-shirts three days after the protesters formed a human chain blocking the entrance to the Kings’ Golden1 Center and prevent all but approximately 1,500 fans to enter.
The police said that they are chasing a suspect who had broken at least three car windows and a neighbor’s sliding glass door. They say the suspect fled out of two responding officers and ignored commands to stop his hands. Video and audio recordings released by the ministry last week show the officers seem really to believe Clark had a gun, and independent experts said that it is unlikely that they face criminal prosecution.
The leaders of the NAACP called for an independent inquiry, but said that the two officers should be criminally charged. They want the Sacramento police department to change its foot pursuit policy to provide for options such as waiting for backup, sending in a police dog, backing off and maintaining control or the use of less-than-lethal force like Tasers during the confrontation.
Department officials do not respond immediately to a request for comment.
State NAACP President Alice Huffman said the organization has asked the U.S. Justice Department’s civil rights division to investigate the murder. The group also wants to be in California for the creation of an inspector-general to investigate police-involved shootings.
Crump, said the family planned Monday to review Clark’s body in preparation for an independent autopsy. A wake is scheduled for Wednesday evening and his funeral is Thursday, said the NAACP Sacramento branch president Betty Williams. Clark’s brother, Stevante Clark, in short notes with his voice cracking thanked former Kings player DeMarcus Cousins for the help cover the funeral costs and for the national and international outpouring of support for his family.
“No family should have to endure the pain and suffering,” Crump, who represented the families of Trayvon Martin and Michael Brown, said at a press conference, interrupted by the shouts of “amen,” “enough is enough” and the singing of Clark’s name.
Thompson said in a barely audible voice, how they look at a video of a granddaughter dancing when, “all I heard was boom, boom, boom.”
She crawled to her 7-year-old granddaughter was sleeping on the couch and pulled her to the ground, then crawled to her husband and told him to call 911. Her husband said that he had heard that there is someone at the back door and ask to be let in.
“It had to be our grandson,” Thompson said, moaning.
Detectives later told her not to look outside, where they would see that the body of Clark, the father of two young children.
“Now my great-grandbabies not their dad,” she said. “Why didn’t they just shoot him in the arm, shoot him in the leg? Sending a dog? Send a Taser? Why? Ya ‘ ll not have to do that.
“I want justice for my baby,” she said before sobbing on Crump’s shoulder and carried away. “I want justice for Stephon Clark.”