Sacramento Police Chief Daniel Hahn says he believes the officers who shot and killed Stephon Clark last March could safely return to street patrol in the city.
Sacramento County District Attorney Anne-Marie Schubert announced this weekend there would be no charges filed against the two officers, Jared Robinet and Terrence Mercadal. The officers returned to work 90 days after the shooting.
Speaking on Insight with Beth Ruyak Monday, Hahn says the department has made a number of policy changes since then, including stricter requirements on officers muting body cameras and pursuing suspects on foot. Still, he pointed out that any discipline for the two officers would be based on the policies at the time.
Hahn says the department's internal review of the incident must wait on not only the district attorney's review but also the investigation of state Attorney General Xavier Becerra. Hahn has not yet received the AG's report.
On what policy changes the department could still make.
We should always believe that there's ways in the future. Society changes, equipment changes, training changes. So I do. I always have hope that that can happen. We've had we have numerous recommendations from the Department of Justice that we will continue to post on our website as we move forward with each one of the recommendations that we haven't already implemented or move forward on. We have Stanford University looking at our department, Center for Policing Equity. The Department of Justice is still moving forward with additional look at our department. So I think there will be positive things that come out of all those that we must consider and implement a lot of them.
On whether the officers should be fired.
Yeah, I completely understand people's anger and frustration about this whole thing. But at the same time somebody's call for them to be fired plays absolutely no bearing on my decision. My decision is based on their actions as they're compared to what our policy was. And for me justice is a couple of things. Justice is was it legal and was it ... When their actions are compared to our policy and legal, if they are within those things, that's justice on one hand. The other part of justice to me is, how do we move forward and ensure that outcomes like this aren't the result of our interactions in our community? That too is justice. But justice is not to me some belief that an outcome should come without the facts and irregardless of whether they match the law or policy to me that is not justice. Justice is fact-based. And compared to what our laws and our policies are.
On whether there would be information released about the state of mind of the officers, after the district attorney released personal information about Stephon Clark.
Well, no, it won't be because their phones weren't looked at. And so we don't, we haven't traditionally done that in investigations. I don't know any department that does do that. But I do think that's a conversation to be had. I don't think that's completely out of the realm of at least something to talk about, whether that needs to be done in the future. The same thing for toxicology has come up too. I also don't think that's outside of the realm of things that we can talk about, because I don't really think there's too many things that are outside of the realm of things that we at least potentially should talk about.
On whether the officers could effectively and safely be back on the streets in Sacramento patrolling.
Well I think that's a distinct possibility and yes I do.
This interview has been edited for clarity and brevity.