Attorneys for the family of Stephon Clark, the 22-year-old Black man fatally shot by two Sacramento officers last year, filed a federal civil rights lawsuit Monday seeking $20 million from the city of Sacramento and the officers who gunned him down.
As reported by the Sacramento Bee, the lawsuit follows a wrongful-death claim filed against the city in September seeking at least $35 million in the young man’s death. It also comes as local officials brace for District Attorney Anne Marie Schubert’s findings on whether officers Jared Robinet and Terrence Mercadal were justified in using lethal force — or if they should face charges in the killing.
The suit, filed on behalf of Clark’s two children, his parents and grandparents, argues that officers violated the man’s constitutional rights when they fired 20 rounds at him, striking his body at least seven times. Clark, who police thought was armed but was only carrying a cellphone, died in his grandparents’ backyard after the March 18, 2018 incident.
In their complaint, the young man’s family also claims officers were negligent because they failed to identify themselves as policemen and didn’t give Clark proper warning before they elected to used deadly force. Authorities were called to the Meadowview neighborhood after reports of someone breaking into cars in the area.
“Plaintiffs have also been deprived of the lifelong love, companionship, comfort, support, society, care and sustenance of [Clark] and will continue to be so deprived for the remainder of their natural lives,” the 31-page court document states.
Moreover, the suit blamed the city for failing to properly train its officers in the use of deadly force. Footage released by Sacramento PD in April showed officers wait at least five minutes to render medical to Clark after shooting him. The cops reportedly claimed to be afraid that Clark was armed and playing dead, the Los Angeles Times reported.
“The training policies of the defendant city police department were not adequate to train its police officers … with regards to using deadly force,” the suit continues. “As a result, city police officers … are not able to handle the usual and recurring situations with which they must deal, including making contact with unarmed individuals holding a cell phone.”
“These inadequate training policies existed prior to the date of this incident and continue to this day,” it states.
The city attorney’s office declined to comment on the lawsuit. The family’s lawyer, Dale Galipo, said he hopes the city will consider reaching an amicable settlement.
Clark’s family has been vocal since filing the civil rights complaint and is now wondering what’s the holdup on the investigation into the officers’ conduct. After completing its own investigation into Clark’s shooting, Sacramento PD turned the case over to the DA’s office and the Department of Justice on Oct. 25, 2018, according to local station KCRA 3.
On Monday, the DA’s office said the results of the investigation into the officers involved in Clark’s shooting has been delayed due to new information. The office said it received “substantial investigative reports and related materials” on Jan. 16, thus hampering the probe as it processes the new information.
Clark’s young brother, Stevante Clark, remains skeptical.
“I believe that it just buys them more time now,” Stevante Clark told the news station. “I think they need more time. We’ve always said justice delayed means justice denied.”
“If we don’t stand up and call for things to be changed, it’s just going to keep happening,” he added. “I would hate for what we go through to happen to anybody else’s family.”
The family, who said they’re still grieving, is demanding justice and accountability as the investigation into their loved one’s killing drags on.