ACLU Statement on Sacramento DA Decision in Stephon Clark Shooting

SACRAMENTO March 2, 2019 – Today, Sacramento District Attorney Anne Marie Schubert announced that her office will not press charges against the officers who shot and killed Stephon Clark in his grandmother’s backyard on March 18, 2018. Clark was unarmed, holding a cell phone, at the time he was killed.

Lizzie Buchen, legislative advocate for the ACLU of California’s Center for Advocacy and Policy, had this to say in response:

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“Today’s decision opens a new wound for the Sacramento community and serves as a potent reminder that California’s law on the use of deadly force needs immediate reform. Our hearts go out to Mr. Clark’s friends and family, and the entire Sacramento community.

“No family should have to live through what Mr. Clark’s family is going through: first traumatized by a system of policing that violently and unjustly takes the lives of unarmed Black men at alarming rates and retraumatized again by a justice system that is set up to sanction these unnecessary killings. Sadly, they are not alone. Instead, they join hundreds of other California families who have been robbed of their loved ones and seen no justice.

“As a society, we give police officers the most significant power we confer on the government — the power to take someone’s life.  Our laws must set appropriate standards to ensure police officers use that power sparingly and with the goal of preserving human life. Of equal importance is the requirement that officers be held accountable when they violate these standards.

“We stand with the Clark family in calling on California legislators to act now to prevent more of these deadly tragedies – and subsequent miscarriages of justice – from happening. AB 392 offers a clear path forward. The bill updates California’s use of force law to ensure police officers use deadly force only when necessary to prevent serious harm. It also mandates that officers use de-escalation tactics whenever possible.

“Inaction is not an option. Establishing clearer use of force guidelines under AB 392 is a matter of life or death.”