2 Sacramento cops who shot Stephon Clark won't face charges

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) — The two Sacramento police officers whose fatal shooting of an unarmed black man last year prompted nationwide protests will not face criminal charges, prosecutors announced Saturday.

Sacramento County District Attorney Anne Marie Schubert said Officers Terrance Mercadal and Jared Robinet used lethal force lawfully. The officers have said they thought Stephon Clark, a vandalism suspect, had a gun but investigators found only a cellphone.

"We must recognize that they are often forced to make split-second decisions and we must recognize that they are under tense, uncertain and rapidly evolving circumstances," Schubert said.

The city has been bracing for protests ahead of the decision, with business owners warned by a business association and state government workers told by legislative officials in recent days to stay away from downtown at least through the weekend.

Schubert said the decision not to file charges against the officers "does not diminish in any way the tragedy, the anger and the frustration that we heard since the time of his death."

She added: "We cannot ignore that there is rage within our community."

Protests after the shooting were largely peaceful but disrupted downtown professional basketball games and freeway traffic.

Clark's family, including his two sons, his parents and his grandparents, filed a wrongful death lawsuit in January seeking more than $20 million from the city, Mercadal and Robinet, alleging that the officers used excessive force and that he was a victim of racial profiling.

One of the officers who shot Clark is black and the other is white, police said.

Passions were more inflamed by conflicting autopsy results.

Police said Clark was facing officers when he was killed, moving forward with his arms extended and an object in his hands.

Police video of the shooting does not clearly capture all that happened after Clark ran into his grandmother's backyard.

It shows him initially moving toward the officers, who are peeking out from behind a corner of the house, but it's not clear whether he was facing them or that he knew the officers were there when they opened fire after shouting "gun, gun, gun." The video shows Clark staggering sideways and falling on his stomach as the officers continue shooting.

Dr. Bennet Omalu, the pathologist whose study of chronic traumatic encephalopathy in football players prompted the NFL to adopt new safety rules designed to prevent concussions, said the autopsy he conducted for the family showed police shot Clark seven times from behind.

The official autopsy made public later said Clark was most likely shot as he approached police, consistent with the officers' story. The pathologist retained by the Sacramento County coroner said Omalu mistook an exit wound for an entry wound, leaving the impression that police first shot Clark from the back, though Omalu defended his conclusion.

California Attorney General Xavier Becerra is conducting his own investigation at the request of local officials.

Use-of-force experts have said there was little chance the officers would face criminal charges under court decisions that let officers use deadly force when they have a reasonable fear of being harmed. The standard makes it rare for officers to be charged after a shooting and rarer still for them to be convicted.

Clark's shooting helped prompt pending state legislation that would allow police to use deadly force only if there is no reasonable alternative, including non-lethal force or efforts to calm the situation.

___

Associated Press writer Daisy Nguyen in San Francisco contributed to this report.

25 PHOTOS
Fatal police shooting of Stephon Clark
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Fatal police shooting of Stephon Clark

 Stephon Clark, 22, was killed in a fatal officer involved shooting in California in March 2018.

(Photo: GoFundMe)

Police helicopter and body camera footage was released of the shooting.


(Photo: Sacramento Police Dept.)

SACRAMENTO, CA - MARCH 26: Sequita Thompson, (L) grandmother of Stephon Clark who was shot and killed by Sacramento police, cries as she speaks during a news conference with civil rights attorney Ben Crump (R) on March 26, 2018 in Sacramento, California. The family of Stephon Clark, an unarmed black man who was shot and killed by Sacramento police officers, have hired civil rights attorney Ben Crump to represent the Clark family in a wrongful death suit against the Sacramento police department. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

Police helicopter and body camera footage was released of the shooting.

(Photo: Sacramento Police Dept.)
Candles light a sidewalk memorial to Stephon Clark, in Sacramento, California, U.S. March 23, 2018. REUTERS/Bob Strong
The house where police shooting victim Stephon Clark was slain is seen in Sacramento, California, U.S. March 24, 2018. REUTERS/Bob Strong
SACRAMENTO, CA - MARCH 26: A woman cries as civil rights attorney Ben Crump speaks during a news conference at Sacramento City Hall on March 26, 2018 in Sacramento, California. The family of Stephon Clark, an unarmed black man who was shot and killed by Sacramento police officers, has hired civil rights attorney Ben Crump to represent the Clark family in a wrongful death suit against the Sacramento police department. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)
A sign is seen painted on the window of a car during a protest over the police shooting of Stephon Clark, in Sacramento, California, U.S. March 23, 2018. REUTERS/Bob Strong
Demonstrators gather to protest the police shooting of Stephon Clark, in Sacramento, California, U.S. March 23, 2018. REUTERS/Bob Strong
SACRAMENTO, CA - MARCH 26: Tanya Faison (L) with Black Lives Matter of Sacramento yells at a man who had confronted her before the start of a news conference with Civil rights attorney Ben Crump at Sacramento City Hall on March 26, 2018 in Sacramento, California. The family of Stephon Clark, an unarmed black man who was shot and killed by Sacramento police officers, have hired civil rights attorney Ben Crump to represent the Clark family in a wrongful death suit against the Sacramento police department. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)
SACRAMENTO, CA - MARCH 26: Sequita Thompson, (C) grandmother of Stephon Clark who was shot and killed by Sacramento police, cries during a news conference with civil rights attorney Ben Crump on March 26, 2018 in Sacramento, California. The family of Stephon Clark, an unarmed black man who was shot and killed by Sacramento police officers, have hired civil rights attorney Ben Crump to represent the Clark family in a wrongful death suit against the Sacramento police department. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)
Deonnah Conway holds candles during a protest over the police shooting of Stephon Clark, in Sacramento, California, U.S. March 23, 2018. REUTERS/Bob Strong
Tami Collins, shows a placard protesting the fatal shooting of Stephon Clark by Sacramento police, during a demonstration in Sacramento, California, U.S., March 22, 2018. REUTERS/Sharon Bernstein
The house where police shooting victim Stephon Clark was slain is seen in Sacramento, California, U.S. March 24, 2018. REUTERS/Bob Strong
Jayden Sherman (R) and David Massey hold candles during a vigil to protest the police shooting of Stephon Clark, in Sacramento, California, U.S. March 23, 2018. REUTERS/Bob Strong
Mar 22, 2018; Sacramento, CA, USA; A young demonstrator holds a photo of Stephon Clark to the glass of the doors to Golden 1 Center as protestors block the entrance to the arena. Mandatory Credit: Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports
Demonstrators gather to protest the police shooting of Stephon Clark, in Sacramento, California, U.S. March 23, 2018. REUTERS/Bob Strong
Demonstrators hold candles during a vigil to protest the police shooting of Stephon Clark, in Sacramento, California, U.S. March 23, 2018. REUTERS/Bob Strong
Demonstrators hold candles during a vigil to protest the police shooting of Stephon Clark, in Sacramento, California, U.S. March 23, 2018. REUTERS/Bob Strong
In Sacramento, police shot at an unarmed black man 20 times, killing him, when he turned out to be holding only a c… https://t.co/HTOLq5BVwP
On Sunday night, Sacramento Police Officers shot and killed Stephon Clark after firing 20 rounds while he was unarm… https://t.co/EynGnsuxrx
Father of two, Stephon Clark, was fatally shot in his backyard by Sacramento police on Sunday night. Police thought… https://t.co/HlfBchf2R2
#StephonClark was fatally shot by Sacramento police in his own backyard, carrying a cell phone that was mistaken fo… https://t.co/d2dYgNRQkX
Unarmed African American man fatally shot by Sacramento Police. He had a cell phone, they shot at him 20 times:… https://t.co/KfR61x8rhm
20 times. After first saying #StephonClark had a gun, then changing it to a crowbar, then admitting he just had a… https://t.co/xu4K0if3jv
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