Black Lives Matter Sacramento activists will begin an eight-day protest outside City Hall this afternoon. They’re demanding justice for Stephon Clark and Brandon Smith: two black men who died during encounters with Sacramento police.
The group has been demonstrating outside the Sacramento County District Attorney’s office weekly since police shot 22-year-old Stephon Clark on March 18. Officers said they thought Clark was armed with a gun, when he was actually holding a cell phone.
They’re also speaking out about an incident on June 6, when 30-year-old Brandon Smith died in police custody. His family says he should have received medical attention.
Now, his brother Brionne Mays is on a mission to hold law enforcement accountable.
"At this point we can't bring him back,” he said. “So justice for me is some indictments. You have these same people working, it happens over and over, it's just following a trend."
Mays, 23, is the second-oldest of four brothers. He said Smith, the oldest, served as a role model for the Elk Grove family. Before he died, Mays said Smith was working at a warehouse to support their mother and his three children, all age 10 and under.
He said he wants Sacramento residents and law enforcement to know his brother’s story.
“He’s a human being like us,” Mays said. “He’s a person. He existed. He wasn’t a nobody for them to just physically and verbally abuse. .... This happened in your community. It could’ve been anybody’s son, anybody’s father, grandchild. Anybody.”
The police department is investigating the incident. Smith’s family has an attorney and is considering litigation. They also plan to request an independent autopsy. The Sacramento County coroner has not released a cause of death or the results of a toxicology report.
Mays says not having all the details has been frustrating and confusing, on top of the shock of watching police mistreat their loved one.
In police body-camera footage, an officer hefts Smith into the patrol wagon while he grunts and yells “No!” There’s an audible slam as Smith’s body hits the sides and floor of the metal clad rear compartment. His cries can be heard from the outside as the officer climbs into the driver’s seat.
“I don’t think you’d even handle your dog like that,” Mays said.
He said Smith was healthy and clear-headed when he went to the detox facility to meet his parole officer for housing assistance. The family doesn’t know why Smith was charged and handcuffed.
“I had talked to him earlier that day,” Mays said. “Now all of a sudden there’s a violation that comes into play … That wasn’t the housing facility where he was supposed to be. That’s why we’re trying to figure out how he ended up there.”
He said the family has requested the footage from inside the facility.
Mays said he won't stop until he sees justice for his brother, and that "Ferguson is around the corner” if officers aren’t held accountable.