The shooting death of Stephon Clark by police in Sacramento in March has prompted the police department there to change its foot-chase policy, KCRA is reporting.
Clark is the young father of two who was fatally shot on March 18 in his grandparents’ backyard after, police claim, they were responding to a call regarding someone breaking car windows at night. Police said they thought they saw a weapon in his hand. After police fatally shot Clark, 22, they discovered he was carrying a cell phone.
The new policy, adopted in July, requires police officers to weigh their own safety, potential danger to the public and the importance of making an arrest in each of these incidents, KCRA reports. Officers also must start their body cameras, explain why they are launching a chase and offer a description of the person they are chasing. Officers may stop pursuit at any time “if the risk of pursuing outweighs the need for apprehension,” according to the policy.
Law enforcement officers must also give thought to their surroundings and rethink the chase if the suspect enters a building or some other enclosed space. They also must consider whether there are other officers available to back them up, KCRA reported.
“Officer and public safety should be the overriding consideration in determining whether a foot pursuit will be initiated, continued or terminated,” according to the new policy.
The policy also requires officers involved in such chases to identify themselves as law enforcement officers and to order the suspect to stop, according to KCRA.
Police Chief Daniel Hahn told the news organization that he does not know if such a policy could have prevented Clark’s death, which prompted widespread protest.
“We’re not completely done with the entire investigation,” Hahn said. “We get into foot pursuits on a daily basis in this city. So, I think, even larger than (Clark’s death), it’s good for everything we do.”
Clark family friend Jamilia Land told KCRA as to whether the new policy would make a difference.
“I feel as though it’s a Band-Aid being put on a gunshot wound,” Land said. “I feel as though it’s something they’re trying to pacify the public so that we can get away from what has really happened here.”
Once the police department investigation of the case is complete, it will be turned over to the Sacramento County District Attorney, KCRA reported.