SACRAMENTO, California — The funeral of 22-year-old Stephon Clark, the unarmed black man fatally shot by police in his grandmother’s backyard, will be held in Sacramento today, with Rev. Al Sharpton delivering the eulogy.
At the same time, protesters demanding justice for Clark’s death will gather at the District Attorney’s Office again, as they have done for days since his death on March 18. Protesters held up their cell phones in reference to the cell phone found near Clark’s body–the item police mistook for a weapon–prompting them to shoot him at least 20 times, according to Sacramento police.
“Cell phone. Don’t shoot,” protestors chanted.
The shooting took place after Sacramento officers responded to a report that a man had broken car windows and was hiding behind a home. Police said they pursued a man — later identified as Clark — who hopped a fence into his grandmother’s property.
The officers said they shot Clark because they believed he was pointing a gun at them. Investigators only found a cell phone near his body.
The officers — one of whom is black — have been placed on administrative leave during the investigation. Clark’s family has disputed the police account.
Outraged residents have taken to the streets in the aftermath of the shooting to demand accountability. Some have called for the firing of the two officers involved and their prosecution.
Protesters have spoken out about other police shootings of African-Americans and their frustration over a legal system that they say has failed to prosecute or convict the officers.
Sacramento Police Chief Daniel Hahn announced this week that California Attorney General Xavier Becerra will hold an independent investigation into the incident.
The chief said he requested the oversight of state prosecutors, even though he had confidence in his detectives to be impartial.
Police released footage of Clark’s shooting 72 hours after it happened, and Hahn said authorities are still gathering facts and conducting a thorough investigation.
In the footage, someone can be heard telling officers to mute their body cameras. The comment comes about seven minutes after Clark was shot multiple times — and it has not sat well with the community.
Hahn told CNN he doesn’t know why the cameras were muted. Officers are allowed to do so in specific situations, like when they’re talking to a confidential informant, he said.
“The bigger question, even beyond this specific case, is if we should allow people to mute their mics at all or under those circumstances,” he said Tuesday. “We were already looking at that before this incident happened, but I think this incident is a perfect example of why that is problematic.”
“Any time there is muting on this camera, it builds suspicion — as it has in this case.”
The Sacramento Kings are preparing for more protests after the funeral Thursday. That day’s game starts at 7 p.m. PT (10 p.m ET). Clark’s funeral is scheduled to take place from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. PT (2 p.m. to 4 p.m. ET) a little more than seven miles from the NBA arena.
Over the past week, the Kings have found themselves at the center of the conflict between police and outraged members of the community. Thursday’s game against the Indiana Pacers includes “a significant police presence around the arena and through the plaza,” the team said in a letter to fans and arena guests.
The team encouraged fans to arrive early and have their tickets ready.
Last week, Kings owner Vivek Ranadivé, conveyed sympathies for the Clark family. He was joined by the team’s players, coaches and team executives.
“We recognize that it’s not just business as usual, and we are going to work really hard to bring everybody together to make the world a better place, starting with our own community, and we’re going to work really hard to prevent this kind of a tragedy from happening again,” he said.
During Sunday’s game, the Kings and Boston Celtics wore warm-up shirts that said: “Accountability. We Are One” on the front and “#StephonClark” on the back.