Updated 3:06 p.m.
California Attorney General Xavier Becerra announced today his office will not file criminal charges against the two officers who shot and killed Stephon Clark last year, saying the officers had reason to believe they were in imminent danger the night of the shooting.
"I want to be clear our investigation was confined solely to an examination of whether the facts of this case were sufficient to establish beyond a reasonable doubt whether a crime was committed by the officers," Becerra said. "Nothing can bring back Stephon Clark and nothing helps end the pain that his family carries."
Becerra's decision comes days after Sacramento County District Attorney Anne Marie Schubert said her office would not bring charges against the officers, Terrence Mercadal and Jared Robinet.
Following Schubert's announcement, activists and Clark family members called for the attorney general to come to a different conclusion. Sacramento police arrested 84 people at a demonstration in East Sacramento Monday night. The demonstrators were protesting the DA's findings.
Schubert said the two officers “honestly, without hesitation, believed he had a gun” before they fired 20 shots at Clark, hitting him at least seven times.
"It was homicide. And they should be charged," Stephon Clark's mother SeQuette Clark said after Schubert's announcement. "I am praying that the attorney general will pick up where she failed."
Becerra spent part of the morning talking with Clark's mother and was 50 minutes late to his own news conference. He addressed a portion of his remarks to the family, saying he wanted to work with them and those who had adopted Clark's cause to "write different endings to these stories."
"I know this is not how our community wants any of these stories to end," he said. "This investigative report reflects the story my team and I wrote based on the facts and evidence before us. But let's start writing these chapters before shots are fired before we're writing a story from a place of grief, anger and anticipation."
Becerra said the evidence his office reviewed showed that Clark was advancing toward the officers at time of the shooting, and that a flash of light visible in the video suggested he had something in his hand.
"Both officers independently stated that they saw Mr. Clark assume a shooting position," Becerra said. "After the shooting video footage shows officers asking each other if they had been shot. After the shooting officers waited for backup before approaching Mr. Clark believing they were in danger."
Clark was killed March 18 after Sacramento police responded to a 911 call of a man breaking car windows in the South Sacramento neighborhood of Meadowview. The two officers pursued Clark into a backyard — which they later learned was his grandmother’s home — where they shot him multiple times. The officers said they believed Clark had a gun, but police only discovered a cell phone next to his body.
The AG's report was one of two outstanding reviews along with the Sacramento Police Department's internal affairs process, which will ultimately decide if the officers stay on the force.
Both officers are back at work with the department. Sacramento Police Chief Daniel Hahn told Insight with Beth Ruyak Monday he believes the officers could safely and effectively return to patrol in the city.
Also on Tuesday, U.S. Attorney McGregor Scott announced his office, along with the FBI and the Civil Rights Division of the U.S. Department of Justice, will examine whether the shooting violated Clark’s federal civil rights.
"That examination will involve review of the substance and results of the state and local investigations, and any additional investigative steps, if warranted," Scott wrote in a statement.
Sacramento Black Lives Matter had previously planned a protest for this afternoon at the Sacramento Police Department's Freeport station. The Sacramento Kings basketball team and the Build.Black. Coalition are also hosting a community forum this evening at 6 p.m. at the South Sacramento Christian Center.
City leaders are also expecting increased attendance at this evening's regularly schedule City Council meeting.
Read Becerra’s full report below.
CapRadio provides a trusted source of news because of you. As a nonprofit organization, donations from people like you sustain the journalism that allows us to discover stories that are important to our audience. If you believe in what we do and support our mission, please donate today.