Two Sacramento officers have been placed on paid administrative leave after fatally shooting an unarmed Black man in his own backyard late Sunday night.
The deadly shooting unfolded as police responded to reports of man smashing car windows in the neighborhood, according to the Sacramento Bee. Relatives have identified the victim as 22-year-old Stephon Clark.
Brother Stevante Clark, 25, said the young man was killed in the backyard of the home he shared with his grandparents and other siblings.
Authorities said they believed Clark had a gun, though no firearm was recovered at the scene. He instead had a “toolbar,” that he “extended in front of him” as he approached officers, a department press release stated. Police could not immediately clarify what a “toolbar” was and said the only thing found next to Clark’s body was his cell phone.
“Our detectives are still out there right now trying to determine what object the subject used,” department spokesman Vance Chandler said.
Officers responded to a call Sunday night that a 6’1″ Black man wearing a dark hoodie and dark pants was hiding in a residential backyard after breaking car windows nearby. Per the press release, Sacramento County Sheriff’s Deputies circling the area in a helicopter saw a man and told officers on the ground he had just smashed a window with the so-called tool bar and was headed to the front yard of a nearby house.
Chandler said the man spotted by helicopter was the same man later confronted by police and ordered to stop and show his hands. Authorities said the man, later identified as Clark, fled to the back of the house where officers said he turned and advanced toward them with something in his hands.
Two officers fired multiple shots at Clark, striking him multiple times. He was pronounced at the scene.
The victim’s grandmother, Sequita Thompson, said she was sitting in the dining room when she heard shots ring out, the Sacramento Bee reported. Thompson said she fell to the floor and crawled to where her 7-year-old granddaughter was sleeping in the next room, telling her to get down, too. The woman said she then went to check on her husband, who has limited mobility and uses a wheelchair to get around.
Thompson said her husband dialed 911 to report the gunfire.
Police reportedly interviewed the couple for hours but failed to mention their grandson was just killed in an officer-involved shooting in their backyard. Thompson said she eventually decided to peek out her window where she saw Clark’s lifeless body.
“I opened that curtain and he was dead,” she told the newspaper. “I started screaming.”
Investigators said they found at least three vehicles with damage believed to be caused by Clark. Police also said he shattered the glass door on an adjacent home.
Police body cam footage of the shooting, including video shot by Sacramento County Sheriff’s deputies in the helicopter, is set to be released within 30 days.
Clark is survived by two young sons, Cairo and Aiden, family members said.