(SACRAMENTO, Calif.) — Relatives, activists and Sacramento officials are questioning why police shot at an unarmed black man 20 times, killing him, when he turned out to be holding only a cellphone in his grandparents’ backyard.Relatives have identified the man as Stephan Alonzo Clark, 22, who preferred to go by Stephon, according to The Sacramento Bee.
Police say the man was spotted breaking at least three vehicle windows Sunday night. Sheriff’s deputies in a helicopter say they saw him break a neighbor’s sliding glass door.
Two arriving officers chased him into the backyard of his grandparents’ home, where he was staying. The department says he refused orders to stop and show his hands. He advanced toward the officers holding an object extended in front of him, the department said. The officers thought he was pointing a handgun and opened fire, fearing for their safety, the department said.
No gun was found and only the cellphone was found near his body when more officers arrived and approached him about five minutes after the shooting, the department said.
“He was at the wrong place at the wrong time in his own backyard?” Clark’s grandmother, Sequita Thompson, told The Sacramento Bee . “C’mon now, they didn’t have to do that.”
The department could not say how many times Clark was hit, and the coroner’s office was not releasing information until his relatives were notified. The department said the two officers have been with Sacramento police for two and four years, but each has four years’ previous experience with other law enforcement agencies. Both are on paid administrative leave.
Family members said Clark leaves behind two sons, 1 and 3 years old.
Clark routinely helped care for his grandparents at their home in south Sacramento, his cousin, Sonia Lewis, told Capitol Public Radio .
Black Lives Matter Sacramento called it a police murder and wants quick answers.
City Councilman Larry Carr decried the loss of life and said police must provide timely information. The department is required to release video from the helicopter and the officers’ body cameras within 30 days.