By Samuel Abels
Imagine for a moment: a father, a son, a grandson, 22-years-old, and gunned down in his own backyard. As a loved one, and as a human being, you would be seeking answers, justice for the killers of the one you held close for all the years that you knew them, for all the years they walked this planet.
That is the story of Stephon Clark.
It was the night of March 18 in Sacramento, CA, and two officers of the Sacramento Police Department responded to reports of an African American man in a hoodie breaking car windows. The suspect fled on foot from law enforcement, appearing to head into a yard. During their pursuit of the suspect, the officers encountered 22-year-old Stephon Clark, who proceeded to run from officers, according to since released police footage of the chase.
The officers claim they saw Clark holding up an item which appeared to be a weapon. “Gun, gun, gun,” one of the officers shouted, before, along with his partner, emptying 20 shots within range of the suspect, and striking him a total of eight times, hitting him seven of those times in the upper torso, and once in the leg.
According to an independent autopsy requested by the Clark family, the leg wound was achieved when Clark initially fell down.
The police department, a day after the shooting, commented that the deceased suspect showed what appeared to be a “toolbar” in his hand. The same day, the police revised their statement to say he did not have a toolbar, nor did he have a gun like previously suspected. Instead, the object turned out to be nothing more than a cellular phone.
At this time, the Sacramento Police Department believes Clark was the man breaking car windows, and that he managed to break a sliding glass door next door to the residence where he was confronted.
The tragic event has since sparked a multitude of protests, including a response from both the Boston Celtics and the Sacramento Kings, where both NBA teams wore shirts that read, “We are one” and “Accountability” during both warm-ups and the “National Anthem.”
Law enforcement is supposed to protect the citizens it claims to serve. Consider what happened: the officers believed he was responsible for breaking the windows of vehicles, and the response was to shoot at him up to 20 times. This might or might not be an issue of race, but it certainly warrants inquiry into police procedure and their overall vetting process.
We as a society should feel safe and secure with our men and women in uniform, not become concerned with potentially falling victim to an impulsive trigger-happy happy officer prone to knee-jerk, heated reactions in the line of duty.