New details have emerged in the shooting death of unarmed Sacramento man Stephon Clark, 22.
Footage released Wednesday by the Sacramento Police Department shows officers fatally shoot Clark within seconds of approaching him in his grandparents’ backyard Sunday, the Sacramento Bee reported. Authorities were responding to reports of a man smashing car windows in the neighborhood.
A few minutes after the shooting, one officer is heard telling another officer, “hey mute,” before the audio cuts out on their body cameras, according to the newspaper. The video continues and the officers are seen talking with each other and at least one other person who was at the scene for two more minutes before the clip ends.
Clark’s family members were able to view the footage Wednesday afternoon before its release to the public.
“We asked, ‘Can they do that,'” said Les Simmons, a pastor and community activist who viewed the footage with two of Clark’s relatives. “They all just muted their [microphones] … It was a moment of, what are they doing? What are they saying?”
According to Sacramento police spokesman Sgt. Vance Chandler, there are a number of reasons why officers have the opportunity to mute their body-worn cameras. However, he did not give a reason why the officers chose to do so after the Clark shooting.
Clark’s aunt, Saquoia Durham, said after seeing the footage, she felt her nephew’s death could have been avoided altogether. The man’s grandparents and sibling were home when officers opened fire in their backyard.
“As soon as they did the command, they started shooting. They said ‘put your hands up, gun’ and then they just let loose on my nephew,” Durham said. “They did not give him a chance to put his hands up or anything … and then when they shot him down, they knew they messed up.”
Authorities said they believed Clark was armed with a gun, though no firearm was recovered at the scene — only a cell phone. A department press released stated Clark had a “toolbar,” that he “extended in front of him” as he approached officers, prompting them to shoot.
“Our detectives are still out there right now trying to determine what object the subject used,” Chandler said earlier this week.
Wednesday’s footage includes body cam video from the two officers involved, each of whom fired 10 shots at Clark, the department said. Those officers are expected to be identified in the coming weeks. For now, they’re on paid administrative leaving pending an investigation into the deadly shooting.
Aerial footage captured by the Sacramento County Sheriff’s Department helicopter is also included in the videos.