Stephon Clark’s grandmother recalls hearing hail of gunfire


The outraged family of Stephon Clark will pay for a private autopsy of the unarmed black man who was shot dead by police as he held only a cell phone in his grandmother's California back yard last week.

Civil rights lawyer Ben Crump announced the independent autopsy Monday, saying Clark's family wants answers on exactly how the 22-year-old father of two died in a hail of 20 bullets fired by Sacramento Police.

"They didn't have to kill him like that. They didn't have to shoot him," Clark's grandmother Sequita Thompson said through sobs at a morning press conference in the state capital with Crump.

She described hearing the "boom, boom, boom, boom" of the police gunshots as she sat at her computer shortly after 9 p.m. on March 18.

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Thompson said she dropped to the floor in terror and crawled over to a 7-year-old grandchild who was sleeping on a nearby couch.

"My great-grandbabies don't have their daddy," she wailed Monday, barely able to stand.

"Why didn't you shoot him in the arm? Shoot him in the legs? Send the dogs? Send the Taser?" she asked, addressing the two unidentified officers who unloaded their weapons in her yard and are now on paid administrative leave.

"I just want justice for my grandson," she cried. "I want justice for Stephon Clark. Please give us justice."

The officers who fired on Clark initially claimed he advanced toward them in the dark holding an object in his hands they believed to be a gun.

No firearm was recovered from the scene. Clark only had his cell phone, police confirmed.

The officers were responding to a 911 call about a man allegedly breaking into cars and breaking a window of a South Sacramento home.

A sheriff's helicopter directed them to Clark's location, where they confronted him and shouted at him to stop.

Authorities released the helicopter and body camera footage last week as they acknowledged the "seriousness" of the situation and vowed an investigation.

Clark's death touched off days of demonstrations in Sacramento, with protesters blocking traffic on Interstate 5 in both directions on Thursday and stopping spectators from entering Golden 1 Arena for a Sacramento Kings game.

On Sunday, Kings players wore T-shirts that said, "Accountability. We are one" on the front and "#StephonClark" on the back.

Salena Manni, the mother of Mr. Clark's two kids, ages 1 and 3, told The Sacramento Bee their family is devastated.

"They're asking, 'Where's Daddy, where's Daddy?" Manni, said, according to the newspaper. "He was part of our family. He was our rock."

Crump previously represented the families of Trayvon Martin, Michael Brown and Tamir Rice.

"He did not deserve to die. He did not deserve to die," a woman attending the press conference Monday said to another attendee who claimed Clark made a "bad" decision when he moved to the back of his grandmother's yard when police first yelled at him.

"There's no justification," the woman told the man who declined to give his name.