California Attorney General Xavier Becerra announced Tuesday that he will not charge the two Sacramento police officers who fatally shot unarmed black man Stephon Clark.
“This loss of life is a tragedy, and it is the kind of tragedy we have endured far too many times across our state and nation,” Attorney General Xavier Becerra said at a press conference. “We found that the evidence did not support filing criminal charges against the officers.”
Becerra’s decision comes three days after the Sacramento District Attorney’s Office announced that it would not charge the officers, Terrence Mercadal and Jared Robinet, who fired at the 22-year-old over 20 times.
“There’s no question that a human being died,” District Attorney Anne Marie Schubert said at a Saturday press conference, citing a toxicology report, cell phone evidence, and body-cam footage to back up her final recommendation. “But when we look at the facts and the law, and we follow our ethical responsibilities, that answer to that question is no.”
Schubert’s decision prompted mass protests throughout East Sacramento. On Monday, 84 people were arrested after protesters marched to police headquarters and staged a sit-in that forced the closure of the Arden Fair mall. Among the arrested were three clergy members and a Sacramento Bee reporter who was covering the demonstration, the paper reported.
Pastor Les Simmons, one of those arrested, told the Los Angeles Times that Becerra’s findings “could implode in our community.”
On March 18, 2018, Clark was shot eight times in his grandparents’ backyard, with six of the bullets hitting him in the back, according to an independent autopsy. The unarmed black man was holding a cell phone that police claimed they mistook for a gun before opening fire.
Becerra said the state’s Department of Justice “did not perform a review of the District attorney’s work” and began their 11-month investigation at the request of Sacramento Police Chief Daniel Hahn.
“We did an independent, separate investigation of the facts and evidence of this case,” he said. Both investigations concluded that the two officers acted out of fear for their lives.
“Nothing can bring back Stephon Clark and nothing helps end the pain that his family carries,” Becerra said. “So I want to close by extending my hand to the Clark family. This report reflects the story my team and I wrote based on the facts and evidence before us, we did it by the book.”
Clark’s mother, Sequette Clark, met with Becerra before the announcement, but has not yet issued a statement about the attorney general’s findings.
“The DA has shown us, time and time again, throughout her term, who she is and what she stands for, which is not fairness or justice,” Clark said after the Saturday press conference.
Last March, Clark’s family filed a $20 million federal wrongful death lawsuit against the city and the officers.
“We’ve been sitting for a year patiently allowing her an opportunity do right, and she has failed us,” Clark said.