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‘Gun! Gun! Gun!': Body Camera Video Shows Sacramento Police Officers Shooting Unarmed Stephon Clark

Sacramento Police Department

Still frame of video footage from the body cameras worn by the two Sacramento police officers who shot and killed Stephon Clark.

Sacramento Police Department

UPDATED 10:02 p.m.

The two Sacramento police officers who shot Stephon Clark this past Sunday followed the unarmed black man at night into his grandparents backyard. One officer had his firearm drawn before entering the yard.

When they arrived in the back of the house, one officer yelled “Gun! Gun! Gun!” and, seconds later, he and his partner shot at Clark approximately 20 times, according to body-camera video footage released this afternoon by the department.

The law-enforcement footage does not indicate what Clark was doing seconds before he was killed, whether he was facing the officers or if he had his back to them.

The video also confirms that law enforcement and first responders waited more than 5 minutes to approach Clark after the shooting. When they did, they put him in handcuffs before performing medical treatment.

The Sacramento Police Department released the videos of the shooting of Clark this afternoon, less than 72 hours after the incident.

Mayor Darrell Steinberg wrote in a statement this evening that he "viewed the videos carefully" and that, "based on the videos alone, I cannot second guess the split-second decisions of our officers and I’m not going to do that."

He added that "we need more information in addition to the video before we can render any final conclusions."

Here’s what we observed from the footage — which includes video from the body cameras worn by the two officers, video from a Sacramento County Sheriff’s Department helicopter, a 911 call and audio from the law-enforcement scanner.

Footage And Sound From Body Cameras One And Two

Minutes before the shooting, one officer is running along 29th Street, shining a light on homes, in pursuit of a suspect. He takes deep breaths. At 9:26 p.m., this officer tells his partner “Over here,” then he heads to the side yard entrance of what is presumably Clark’s grandparents' house.

Both officers enter the side yard, where a black metal gate is already open. One spots a suspect and immediately yells: “Hey! Show me your hands. Stop! Stop!”

This officer continues down the side yard and into the backyard, which is sparsely lit and features tall green grass and a patio area. Five seconds after yelling, the officer wearing Body-Camera 1 draws his firearm, holding it with both hands.

When he turns a corner into the backyard, the officer immediately yells “Gun!” then retreats behind the corner of the house. Seconds later, he emerges from behind the corner and yells, “Show me your hands! Gun, gun, gun!” and then instantly fires his weapon.

The audio from the officer's camera indicates five distinct gunshots, and then a series of rapid bursts, approximately 15 shots.

After the shooting, one of the officers claims that he saw “something in his left hand, it looked like a gun from our perspectives.”

The officers waited nearly five minutes until they approached Clark, whom they placed in handcuffs before performing medical treatment. Clark was pronounced dead at the scene by the fire department. The video shows Clark wearing a North Face hooded sweatshirt and black track pants with white stripes along the sides. 

The body-camera footage begins with the officers approaching a home and knocking on a door, asking to check out the owner’s backyard,  due to reports that a man broke car windows and jumped the property’s fence.

The woman says she needs to put her three dogs in the garage before the officers can enter.

Footage And Audio From The Sacramento County Helicopter

The helicopter footage indicates that one officer drew his firearm before entering the grandparent’s side yard.

The footage shows that the officers pursued Clark into the backyard, but it does not show what Clark was doing the seconds before he was killed.

The aerial footage starts with Clark as a white silhouette running through a backyard toward a fence. An officer inside the helicopter says, "He just broke the window, running south"

Clark climbs up onto a box, and hops over a fence heading south into the next yard.  Clark walks slowly through the backyard toward the house. He moves to the front yard and walks slowly past an SUV in the driveway, not running, then looks around. There are two officers at the top of the screen on 29th Street next to a parked car.

"All I can tell you is it looks like he's got a hoodie on,” the deputy says.

Clark is standing between the house and the SUV, not running. He looks like he's peering into the back window of the SUV.

“He’s looking into another car that’s in between the fence and the front yard,” says the helicopter officer.

The helicopter circles toward the south, facing north, so that the roof of the house is blocking the camera line of sight and the suspect is not visible from this angle.

The first officer walks towards the car and the house with his right arm extended, while the second officer sprints across the front yard toward the house and joins Officer #1.

“It looks like he might be at gunpoint,” the helicopter officer says. A female officer replies,“Copy one at gunpoint.”

Clark walks into view after about 10 seconds of being out of view toward the backyard away from the SUV and the first officer.

“Okay, let’s get a perimeter on, this guy’s running south, he’s gonna hit this field,” says the helicopter officer. “He’s at one house, one further house, one yard to the south.”

The two officers are sprinting past the SUV into the backyard. Both officers have their arms extended. When they both see Clark at the southern end of the backyard, they run back around the corner of the house for cover.

The two officers are behind the corner of the north side of the house in cover. The officer closest to the house fires a shot, and the shot appears as a flash of white at the end of the officer’s arms. Both officers begin firing. Some of the shots are visible, and some of the shots are obscured by a bar along the bottom of the clip. Clark is down on the ground crawling.

The officer leaning against the house fires his gun around four to six times, based on flashes from his hands, but the bar along the bottom of the video clip makes it difficult to count exactly how many shots each officer fired.

“Shots fired, shots fired,” says the helicopter officer.

The helicopter circles around looking north from the south side of the backyard. Clark’s body is blocked and not visible under a porch overhang. The two officers are still crouched behind the corner of the house.

What Can Be Heard On The 9/11 Call

The man who made the initial 911 call, which law-enforcement says came in at 9:13 p.m.,  reported an individual breaking windows on the 7800 block of 29th Street. The caller also reported that the individual was trying to get into the backyard of a house by jumping a fence.

In his call, he said he heard a noise, came outside, and witnessed a man in a plain black hooded sweatshirt standing next to his truck. Then, he saw one of his truck  windows had been smashed open. The caller says he turned to grab a bat, but the man ran away.

He  says he heard dogs barking in the backyard of a house across the street, so he suspected the individual fled there.

The 911 responder told the caller that they were sending helicopters and two ground units to the scene. She said helicopters arrive more quickly, and can spot the carjacker from above; this way, when the police arrive, they can catch him.

She also added that it’s St. Patrick’s Day weekend, so the police have been very busy.

The Sacramento County Sheriff's helicopter footage indicates that one officer drew his firearm before entering the grandparents' side yard.

The footage shows that the two officers pursued Clark into the backyard, but it does not show what Clark was doing seconds before he was killed.

The aerial footage starts with Clark as a white silhouette running through a backyard toward a fence. A deputy inside the helicopter says, "He just broke the window, running south." The footage does not show Clark breaking a window.

Clark climbs up onto a box, and hops over a fence heading south into the next yard. Clark walks slowly through the backyard toward the house. He moves to the front yard and walks slowly past an SUV in the driveway, then looks around. There are two officers at the top of the screen on 29th Street next to a parked car.

"All I can tell you is it looks like he's got a hoodie on,” the helicopter deputy says.

Clark is standing between the house and the SUV. He looks like he's peering into the back window of the SUV.

“He’s looking into another car that’s in between the fence and the front yard,” says the helicopter deputy.

The helicopter circles toward the south, facing north, so that the roof of the house is blocking the camera line of sight and the suspect is not visible from this angle.

The first officer walks towards the car and the house with his right arm extended, while the second officer sprints across the front yard toward the house and joins the first officer.

“It looks like he might be at gunpoint,” the helicopter deputy says. A female officer replies,“Copy one at gunpoint.”

The two officers are sprinting past the SUV into the backyard. Both officers have their arms extended. When they both see Clark at the southern end of the backyard, they run back around the corner of the house for cover.

The two officers are behind the corner of the north side of the house. The officer closest to the house fires a shot, and the shot appears as a flash of white at the end of the officer’s arms. Both officers begin firing. Some of the shots are visible, and some of the shots are obscured by a bar along the bottom of the clip. Clark is down on the ground crawling.

The officer leaning against the house fires his gun around four to six times, based on flashes from his hands, but the bar along the bottom of the video clip makes it difficult to count exactly how many shots each officer fired.

“Shots fired, shots fired,” says the helicopter deputy.

The helicopter circles around looking north from the south side of the backyard. Clark’s body is blocked and not visible under a porch overhang. The two officers are still crouched behind the corner of the house.

What Can Be Heard On The 9/11 Call

The man who made the initial 911 call, which law-enforcement says came in at 9:13 p.m., reported an individual breaking windows on the 7800 block of 29th Street. The caller also reported that the individual was trying to get into the backyard of a house by jumping a fence.

In his call, he said he heard a noise, came outside, and witnessed a man in a plain black hooded sweatshirt standing next to his truck. Then, he saw one of his truck windows had been smashed open. The caller says he turned to grab a bat, but the man ran away.

He says he heard dogs barking in the backyard of a house across the street, so he suspected the individual fled there.

The 911 responder told the caller that they were sending helicopters and two ground units to the scene. She said helicopters arrive more quickly, and can spot the carjacker from above; this way, when the police arrive, they can catch him.

 Stephon Clark

Adhiti Bandlamudi

NPR Kroc Fellow

Adhiti Bandlamudi is a visiting NPR Kroc Fellow. During her fellowship, she has worked as a reporter for the National Desk and as a producer for Weekend All Things Considered and Planet Money.   Read Full Bio 

Cody Drabble

Insight Producer and On-Air Director

Cody Drabble learned to love public radio growing up in San Francisco with KQED on every morning during breakfast. In addition to producing and directing the live broadcast of Insight each morning, he also fills in as guest host for Beth Ruyak.   Read Full Bio 

Chris Remington

Former Producer, Insight

Chris joined Capital Public Radio’s “Insight with Beth Ruyak” in September 2016, booking a wide variety of guests, developing questions and producing music elements for the program.  Read Full Bio 

Nick Miller

Senior Editor, News & Features

Nick Miller is an award-winning editor with more than 15 years of newsroom experience. Previously he was editor-in-chief of the East Bay Express in Oakland, and worked as an editor for 12 years at the Sacramento News & Review.  Read Full Bio 

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