In wake of Stephon Clark protests, California Department of Justice to investigate police shooting

Stephon Clark protests
SACRAMENTO, CA – MARCH 22: A young girl wears a shirt with an image of Stephon Clark during a Black Lives Matter demonstration inside Sacramento City Hall on March 22, 2018 in Sacramento, California. Hundreds of protesters staged a demonstration against the Sacramento police department after two officers shot and killed Stephon Clark, an unarmed black man, in the backyard of his grandmother’s house following a foot pursuit on Sunday evening. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

As protests increase in the wake of the fatal police shooting of Stephon Clark, California’s Department of Justice has announced they will conduct an independent investigation into the 23-year-old father’s death.

The LA Times reports that California Attorney General Xavier Becerra made the public statement at a press conference Tuesday morning. 

Bacerra said that he and his team will conduct a completely separate investigation, and will look closely into the department’s policies and procedures.

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Chief Daniel Hahn of the Sacramento Police Department said that he requested the Attorney General’s help, and plans to cooperate fully with the independent investigation.

Anne Marie Schubert, the Sacramento County District Attorney said that she looks forward to the DOJ’s assistance and added, “I also understand there’s tremendous anger, there’s tremendous grief. There’s also many that are distrustful of our system.”

Becerra did admit that his department lacks the resources to investigate every police-shooting incident in the state, but that it legally had the power to do so. 

“We have independent authority to go into to either try to investigate or—in this case—work with the local authorities to try to provide independent eyes,” Bacerra continued. 

Many Sacramento residents and protesters remain skeptical about the difference the DOJ will make in investigating the police shooting of Stephon Clark.

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“There’s been federal investigations before of police killings, there’s been state investigations before of police killings,” said Tanya Faison of the local Black Lives Matter chapter.

A call for accountability

The family of Stephon Clark, along with civil rights attorney Benjamin Crump, held a press conference Monday to call for the police officers responsible for Clark’s death to be criminally charged.

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The shooting death caused widespread protests throughout the city. The NAACP claims that the Sacramento police have failed to respond to their inqueries surrounding Clark’s killing.

“The DA didn’t respond to us, and that gives us a leg to stand on” said Alice Huffman, head of the California NAACP. Huffman said the pressure on the police won’t cease “until they stop gunning down our people like animals.”

Crump is representing the Clark family and said an independent autopsy of the 22-year-old’s body is underway as the family prepares to view him. His funeral is scheduled for today.