Bright light on family of Sacramento police shooting victim

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Bright light on family of Sacramento police shooting victim
Bright light on family of Sacramento police shooting victim

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) – A blinding national spotlight is shining on the family of Stephon Clark, the 22-year-old unarmed black man killed by Sacramento police last week.

“You don’t know what it’s like until you experience it,” Clark’s uncle, Curtis Gordon, told The Associated Press in an interview Tuesday. “You can see it on TV, it’s totally OK to deal with those realities when it’s just through a television and they’re not in your home. It’s different now.”

Television cameras and national media were there Monday for a news conference where Gordon supported Clark’s grandmother, who sobbed uncontrollably as she recounted the shooting and asked why something significantly less lethal than a barrage of 20 bullets could not have been used by police.

They were there Tuesday morning when the city’s first black police chief pleaded for calm after more than a week of unrest and later in the day when Clark’s brother and supporters disrupted a City Council meeting and then demonstrators for a second time blocked thousands of NBA fans from entering the arena for the hometown Kings game.

They will be there Wednesday for Clark’s wake and on Thursday when the Rev. Al Sharpton plans to give the eulogy at Clark’s funeral.

For all the angst and raw emotions, grieving and weary family members are skeptical that any substantive change will result before the next young black man dies from police gunfire and siphons away the national media and banner headlines.

“So we appreciate the conversation, but conversation without implementation of some true reformation means nothing,” Gordon said. “It brought us to this moment, but what about tomorrow? What about next week?

“You know, sadly, I have no confidence in America and the fact that I will probably hear another story sometime this year of an innocent life lost over excessive police force. It’s so common, you’re numb to it.”

Clark was killed March 18 when two Sacramento police officers responding to a report of someone breaking car windows fatally shot him in his grandparents’ backyard. Police say they believe Clark was the suspect and he ran when a police helicopter responded, then did not obey officers’ orders.

Police say they thought Clark was holding a gun when he moved toward them, but he was found only with a cellphone.

The California attorney general’s office on Tuesday joined the investigation, a move Sacramento Police Chief Daniel Hahn said he hopes will bring “faith and transparency” to a case that he said has as sparked “extremely high emotions, anger and hurt in our city.”

Attorney General Xavier Becerra’s office will provide oversight of the investigation and conduct a review of the police department’s policies and use-of-force training. The decision of whether to bring criminal charges against the officers involved remains with District Attorney Anne Marie Schubert, although Becerra said his office could also bring charges.

Clark’s family is skeptical that the investigation will provide appropriate results, Gordon said.

“It’s all talk at this point,” he said. “Show me.”

African-Americans have been dealing with implicit and explicit bias for centuries, Gordon said. Many factors play a role but he said one necessity is for police forces to do a better job weeding out those who should not be officers.

Clark’s family is leaning on their faith as they face a public wake Wednesday and a two-hour funeral Thursday, both at Bayside of South Sacramento Church. Clark leaves behind a fiancee and two children, ages 1 and 3.

“We trust in a spiritual realm, in our Creator, to give us undiscovered strength,” Gordon said.

“We will make it through this. And that’s the thing, ’cause it’s bigger than us and we have to accept that. We carry that torch for Stephon.”

Stevante Clark stands on a desk as he shouts the name of his brother Stephon Clark, who was fatally shot by police a week earlier, during a meeting of the Sacramento City Council, Tuesday, March 27, 2018, in Sacramento, Calif. Stevante Clark disrupted the meeting and demanded to speak, causing the city council to adjourn for a roughly 15-minute recess as a result of the disruption. (AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli)
Demonstrators gather outside the entrance to the Sacramento City Council chambers to protest the shooting death of Stephon Clark by Sacramento police, Tuesday, March 27, 2018, in Sacramento, Calif. Clark, who was unarmed, was shot and killed last week by two Sacramento Police officers responding to a call about a person smashing car windows. (AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli)
CORRECTS SPELLING OF FIRST NAME TO CURTIS, INSTEAD OF KURTIS – As Sequita Thompson, center, discusses the shooting of her grandson, Stephon Clark, Clark’s uncle, Curtis Gordon wipes a tear from her cheek during a news conference, Monday, March 26, 2018, in Sacramento, Calif. Clark, who was unarmed, was shot and killed by Sacramento police officers a week ago who were responding to a call about a person smashing car windows. At right is attorney Ben Crump. (AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli)
Helmeted Sacramento Police officers block the entrance to the Sacramento City Council chambers from demonstrators protesting the shooting death of Stephon Clark by Sacramento Police, Tuesday, March 27, 2018, in Sacramento, Calif. Clark, who was unarmed, was shot and killed a week earlier by two officers responding to a call about a person smashing car windows. (AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli)
A demonstrator, left, talks with a Sacramento Kings ticket holder, right, during a protest over the shooting death of Stephon Clark by Sacramento Police officers on March 18, causing a lockdown of the Golden 1 Center, Tuesday, March 27, 2018, in Sacramento, Calif. The Sacramento Kings released a statement saying refunds would be given for those ticket holders who were not able to get in to see the NBA basketball game between the Kings and the Dallas Mavericks. (AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli)
People blocked from entering the Golden 1 Center stand outside metal detectors, Tuesday, March 27, 2018, in Sacramento, Calif. A demonstration over the shooting death of Stephon Clark by two Sacramento police officers on March 18 forced a lockdown of the arena, keeping thousands of ticket holders from watching the Sacramento Kings play the Dallas Mavericks in an NBA basketball game. The team released a statement saying refunds would be given for those ticket holders who were not able to get in. (AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli)
Demonstrators protesting the shooting death of Stephon Clark by Sacramento Police officers, block the entrance to the Golden 1 Center, preventing ticket holders who weren’t already inside from watching the Dallas Mavericks play the Sacramento Kings in an NBA basketball game, Tuesday, March 27, 2018, in Sacramento, Calif. Clark, who was unarmed, was shot and killed a week earlier by two officers responding to a call about a person smashing car windows. (AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli)
Sacramento Kings owner Vivek Ranadive watches as protesters block the entrance to the Golden One Center preventing fans from entering the arena to watch the Sacramento Kings take on the Dallas Mavericks NBA basketball game in Sacramento, Calif., Tuesday, March 27, 2018. They were protesting the shooting of Stephen Clark who was killed during a confrontation with Sacramento Police on March 18. (AP Photo/Steve Yeater)
CORRECTS SPELLING OF FIRST NAME TO CURTIS, INSTEAD OF KURTIS – A tearful Sequita Thompson, center, pauses as she discusses the shooting of her grandson, Stephon Clark, during a news conference, Monday, March 26, 2018, in Sacramento, Calif. Clark, who was unarmed, was shot and killed by Sacramento police officers who were responding to a call about person smashing car windows a week ago. Thompson was accompanied by Clark’s uncle, Curtis Gordon, left, and attorney Ben Crump, right. (AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli)
CORRECTS SPELLING OF FIRST NAME TO CURTIS, INSTEAD OF KURTIS – A tearful Sequita Thompson, center, discusses the shooting of her grandson, Stephon Clark, during a news conference, Monday, March 26, 2018, in Sacramento, Calif. Clark, who was unarmed, was shot and killed by Sacramento police officers who were responding to a call about person smashing car windows a week ago. Thompson was accompanied by Clark’s uncle, Curtis Gordon, left, and attorney Ben Crump, right. (AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli)
CORRECTS SPELLING OF FIRST NAME TO CURTIS, INSTEAD OF KURTIS – Sequita Thompson, center, discusses the shooting of her grandson, Stephon Clark, during a news conference, Monday, March 26, 2018, in Sacramento, Calif. Clark, who was unarmed, was shot and killed by Sacramento police officers last week who were responding to a call about a person smashing car windows. Thompson was accompanied by Clark’s uncle, Curtis Gordon, left, and attorney Ben Crump, right. (AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli)
CORRECTS SPELLING OF FIRST NAME TO CURTIS, INSTEAD OF KURTIS – Sequita Thompson, center, discusses the shooting of her grandson, Stephon Clark, during a news conference, Monday, March 26, 2018, in Sacramento, Calif. Clark, who was unarmed, was shot and killed by Sacramento police officers last week who were responding to a call about a person smashing car windows. Thompson was accompanied by Clark’s uncle, Curtis Gordon, left, and attorney Ben Crump, right. (AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli)
Stevante Clark shouts the name of his brother Stephon Clark, who was fatally shot by police a week earlier, during a meeting of the Sacramento City Council, Tuesday, March 27, 2018, in Sacramento, Calif. Stevante Clark disrupted the meeting and demanded to speak, causing the city council to adjourn for a roughly 15-minute recess as a result of the disruption. (AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli)
Stevante Clark, brother of Stephon Clark who was fatally shot by police a week earlier, disrupts a meeting of the Sacramento City Council, Tuesday, March 27, 2018, in Sacramento, Calif. (AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli)
Stevante Clark sits on the dais in front of Sacramento Mayor Darrell Steinberg during a city council meeting, Tuesday, March 27, 2018, in Sacramento, Calif. Clark, the brother of Stephon Clark, who was shot and killed by Sacramento Police officers a week earlier, disrupted the meeting and demanded to speak. The city council adjourned for a roughly 15-minute recess as a result of the disruption. (AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli)
Curtis Gordon pauses as he talks about his nephew, shooting victim, Stephon Clark, during an interview with the Associated Press, Tuesday, March 27, 2018, in Sacramento, Calif. Clark, who was unarmed, was shot and killed last week ago by two Sacramento Police officers responding to a call about a person smashing car windows. (AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli)
Stevante Clark jumps on the dais and shouts at Sacramento Mayor Darrell Steinberg, left, during a city council meeting, Tuesday, March 27, 2018, in Sacramento, Calif. Clark, the brother of Stephon Clark, who was shot and killed by Sacramento Police officers a week earlier, disrupted the meeting and demanded to speak. The city council adjourned for a roughly 15-minute recess as a result of the disruption. (AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli)
Stevante Clark stands on a desk as he shouts the name of his brother Stephon Clark, who was fatally shot by police a week earlier, during a meeting of the Sacramento City Council, Tuesday, March 27, 2018, in Sacramento, Calif. Stevante Clark disrupted the meeting and demanded to speak, causing the city council to adjourn for a roughly 15-minute recess as a result of the disruption. (AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli)
Stevante Clark sits on the dais in front of Mayor Darrell Steinberg, during a city council meeting Tuesday, March 27, 2018, in Sacramento, Calif. Clark, the brother of Stephon Clark, who was shot and killed by Sacramento Police Officers, last week, disrupted the meeting and demanded to speak. The city council adjourned for a roughly 15-minute recess as a result of disruption. (AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli)
Stevante Clark, brother of Stephon Clark stormed the Sacramento City Council chambers briefly forcing the council to leave the chambers on Tuesday, March 27, 2018. (Jose Luis Villegas /The Sacramento Bee via AP)
This March 18, 2018 photo, courtesy of the family, shows Stephon Clark at 5:20 p.m. in the afternoon before he died in a hail of police gunfire in the backyard of his grandmother Sequita Thompson’s home in Sacramento, Calif. On Monday, March 26, Thompson called for changes in the way police confront suspects, such as sending in a police dog, using a Taser, or aiming for an arm or leg when shots are fired. (Family courtesy photo via AP)
Sacramento Mayor Darrell Steinberg, left, discusses the killing of Stephon Clark by two Sacramento Police officers, Tuesday, March 27, 2018, in Sacramento, Calif. Sacramento Police Chief Daniel Hahn, third from right, asked California Attorney General, Xavier Becerra, second from right, to be part of an independent investigation into the shooting of Clark, who was unarmed, when he was shot and killed a week ago by officers responding to a call about a person smashing car windows. At right is Sacramento County District Attorney Anne Marie Schubert. (AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli)
California Attorney General Xavier Becerra, left, discusses his office’s involvement of an investigation into the killing of Stephon Clark by two Sacramento Police officers, Tuesday, March 27, 2018, in Sacramento, Calif. Sacramento Police Chief Daniel Hahn, second from right, asked Becerra’s office to be part of an independent investigation into the shooting of Clark, who was unarmed, who was shot and killed a week ago by officers responding to a call about a person smashing car windows. (AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli)
Sacramento Police Chief Daniel Hahn, center, flanked civic and community leaders announced that he has asked Attorney General Xavier Becerra’s office to be part of an independent investigation of the shooting death of Stephon Clark by two Sacramento Police officers, Tuesday, March 27, 2018, in Sacramento, Calif. Clark, who was unarmed, was shot and killed a week ago by officers responding to a call about a person smashing car windows. (AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli)
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