Prosecutors plan to announce Saturday whether they will charge two Sacramento police officers in the fatal shooting of an unarmed black man who was killed in the backyard of his grandmother’s house. The incident triggered local demonstrations and nationwide protests.
Stephon Clark, 22, was shot eight times by police searching for reports that vandals were breaking into cars in the California neighborhood.
Police said they thought Clark, who was spotted by a police helicopter jumping a fence into the yard moments before, was pointing a gun at them during the incident, but the object turned out to be a cell phone.
At least part of the confrontation was filmed by police video cameras, and the surveillance helicopter.
The officers were placed on administrative leave after the shooting but were back on the job within a few weeks.
Sacramento District Attorney Anne Marie Schubert scheduled a news conference to announce whether the officers broke any laws when they opened fire.
Although an independent autopsy ordered by Clark’s family determined that he was shot by police mostly from behind, a Sacramento County Coroner’s report conducted by a forensic pathologist found Clark had been shot once in the front of the left thigh, three times directly to the side, and three times in the right side of the back.
Clark didn’t immediately die from his wounds even though just one of the wounds could have been fatal on its own, said Dr. Bennet Omalu, who conducted the autopsy for the family.
Authorities have said several minutes passed before Clark was treated because of fears he was armed.
The city braced for protests ahead of Saturday’s decision. After the shooting last March, emotions ran high when protests and rallies disrupted traffic and blocked access to NBA basketball games. At least one city council meeting was interrupted by protesters.
Business owners and political leaders have received warnings in recent days to stay away from downtown at least through the weekend.
Activist Al Sharpton gave the eulogy for Clark and derided the White House for dismissing the killing as a “local matter.”
“This is not a local matter,” Sharpton shouted during his remarks. “They have been killing young black men all over the country, and we are here to say that we are going to stand with Stephon Clark and his family.”
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