Mayor Pushes Bill To Criminalize Justified Shootings After Stephon Clark Ruling

Sacramento Mayor Darrell Steinberg vowed to change use of deadly force laws in the wake of the Stephon Clark decision.

Correction: This article initially referenced an earlier proposal for a deadly force bill which restricts when force can be used. Instead, the submitted bill actually focuses on criminalizing how officers got into deadly force situations, rather than being more restrictive on the use of deadly force itself.

Sacramento, CA – The mayor of Sacramento used the district attorney’s announcement that no charges would be filed against the police officers who killed Stephon Clark to recommit to changing the use of deadly force policy in California.

Sacramento County District Attorney Anne Marie Schubert announced during a press conference on Saturday that her office had determined that the officers had not committed a crime when they shot 22-year-old Clark, believing he had a gun.

“This is a difficult day for Sacramento,” Sacramento Mayor Darrell Steinberg said.

Steinberg apologized to the Clark family multiple times after the announcement during a press conference outside City Hall, and said he hoped the case would be a “a tipping point for our community and not a breaking point,” the Sacramento Bee reported.

“Today’s announcement only deepens our commitment to transformational community policing and better training,” the mayor said. “Today’s announcement only deepens our commitment to changing the legal standard from whether a shooting was reasonable to whether it could have been prevented. Today’s announcement only deepens our commitment to making sustained and meaningful investments in our neighborhoods and our young people.”

He said he wasn’t surprised at the district attorney’s determination based on current California law.

“What matters most now is what we do going forward together,” Steinberg said. “The current constitutional standard that dates back to, I believe, the 1800s says that if an officer-involved shooting is deemed reasonable after the fact, that it is then justifiable. I believe that that standard needs to be changed. I think the question must be, was the shooting preventable?”

Schubert’s decision not to charge the officers who shot Clark came after an almost year-long investigation by the Sacramento Police Department, an investigation by the California Department of Justice, and an expert consultant.

The incident that led to Clark’s death began when officers responded to a 911 call about someone breaking into cars at about 9:18 p.m. on March 18, 2018.

Upon arrival, officers found at least three cars that had their windows smashed in, and spoke to a neighbor who had confronted Clark with a baseball bat.

DNA and glass analysis now prove that Clark is the person who smashed the windows, Schubert said.

Officers were then notified that the police helicopter had spotted Clark in the backyard of a residence.

Clark appeared to be using a large object to break out the rear sliding glass door of the occupied home, deputies said.

Schubert said Clark smashed the entire sliding glass door with a cinderblock brick.

The helicopter and officers on the ground spotted Clark, 22, as he moved along the side of a house, later identified as his grandparents’ home.

The officers ordered Clark to show his hands and stop, but Clark fled from officers into the backyard of the home.

Both officers pursued Clark, who then turned in a shooting stance and advanced towards officers with an object extended towards them.

Schubert said Clark advanced from about 30 feet away to being only 16 feet away from officers before they opened fire.

In the bodycam video, you could hear an officer yell, "Gun, gun, gun" as Clark took the shooting stance.

One of the officers later said that he saw a flash of light which he believed to be muzzle flash from a gun being fired. The other officer said he thought he saw a reflection of light on a metallic object, Schubert said.

The bodycam video captured the flash of light but the source of the light was unclear.

The object in Clark's hand was later identified as a cell phone.

A forensic examination of the phone later showed that Clark was not recording the officers at the time of the shooting.

The bodycam showed the officers talking immediately after the shooting, discussing if they were hit and how to safely remove what they believed to be a gun.

A toxicology report showed that Clark had alcohol, Xanax, codeine, hydrocodone, marijuana, and cocaine metabolite in his blood.

Schubert explained that his toxicology report was relevant because it shows why Clark's behavior may have been altered.

Investigators later determined that two days before the shooting, he had committed domestic violence assault involving the mother of his children. At the time of the shooting he was wanted for the domestic violence and a felony probation violation.

The mother of Clark's children texted him that there was a warrant for his arrest and he was going to be locked up for the rest of his life.

Investigators found that Clark had drafted an e-mail to law enforcement on his phone about the domestic violence and said that he was afraid he'd be put in jail.

He then searched over two dozen sites about how to commit suicide, which primarily focused on suicide by drug ingestion. Xanax and alcohol mixture was a combination which came up in his search results.

After that search, he texted the mother of his children asking if she wanted him to kill himself and he sent her a picture of Xanax pills and threatened to take them all.

Schubert said that her office determined that the officers had probable cause to stop Stephon Clark, and his flight didn't remove their responsibility to stop him.

Under the laws directing officers' use of force, police were justified in using deadly force against Clark, Schubert said.

The mayor’s solution to an incident that has essentially been ruled a suicide-by-cop by an emotionally disturbed man was to shore up his support for new legislation governing officers’ use-of-force in California.

Steinberg promised to lobby in support of Assembly Bill 392, a bill that would change the rules for use of deadly force in California, the Sacramento Bee reported.

He said city officials were working with the Sacramento Police Department to change their deadly force policies based on recent recommendations from California Attorney General Xavier Becerra.

Becerra said Sacramento police needed to use better discretion in pursuing suspects, according to the Sacramento Bee.

“On the policing front, we have more work to do, that’s obvious,” Steinberg said.

The city set up safe spaces in a church and community centers for residents to gather over the weekend and “share our frustrations.”

Comments (82)
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Woobie46
Woobie46

These leftist/communist assholes should be required to patrol their own streets. Let them figure out when their lives are in danger and when they aren't. I would LOVE to see one of these teen punks take out the mayor in the dark at the scene of a burglary in progress. THEN let's talk!

OldVet
OldVet

This Mayor and others and Lawmakers in California are downright STUPID

Officer Cynical
Officer Cynical

Time for Sacramento PD as a whole to just walk away.

LEO0301
LEO0301

At first I thought this was a parody because surely no one could be this stupid. But alas, I forgot this was California. There is absolutely no way I could work in that state as a police officer. I'm sure many cops in Sacramento are thinking of finding a job in another state but it's not always that easy. They probably have homes, friend and family they would hate to leave but if they want to stay in the profession, please find a job in a law enforcement friendly state.

fukemall
fukemall

I wonder what this Mayor would do if he found himself in this situation.

IseeWhereThisIsGoing
IseeWhereThisIsGoing

Or...... if you have a gun pointed at you by law enforcement, during an arrest, follow the directions of the officers, no sudden moves, show them your hands, and you won't get shot.

Not really all that difficult, yet some people still insist on fighting the police..... and they wonder why they get shot.

Matt2073
Matt2073

Your mayor is a fucking moron

C6CorvetteDriver
C6CorvetteDriver

How can an officer determine if a firearm is unloaded? They cannot and including that verbiage into AB392 is irresponsible, immoral, insensitive, lacks empathy for LEO's. Same goes for a fake gun such as an airsoft gun, a plastic gun. Officers cannot determine what's real over fake, what's loaded over not. Let's not put our LEO's lives at further risks over losers like Clark, he was an abuser, a thief, drug induced addict.

BLUsupporter
BLUsupporter

The country is in a war against the police but it's not cops vs criminals, it's cops vs politicians. Very sad. Every cop in California should walk off the job for 1 day. Bet you that mayor has never even done a ride-along with a cop for one day - an utter coward.

Shastabeau
Shastabeau

So in other words, make it easier to kill a cop doing his job! Mayor should maybe take a hike!

walkintall
walkintall

Well, here's a poser....How could this terrible tragedy have been prevented?? Any thoughts, Mayor??

RetiredADA
RetiredADA

There will be more officers killed while doing their job trying to protect the citizens. God bless them.

robocop95
robocop95

Time for mass resignations in California

Scarlett
Scarlett

Mayor of Sacramento, CA is an idiot! Californication nation. Seems like they are always trying to screw themselves any way they can in California.

grant99710
grant99710

Someone “train” the idiot mayor in Constitutional law along with the many cases that were ruled upon to form the basis for self defense for law enforcement. One key issue if I remember, is that you cannot use “after the fact arm chair quarterbacking” to determine how an officer responded . To an incident. You have to examine it as “in the moment”. Basically this asshole is trying to mitigate any type of protesting that may very well happen. I would ask the mayor of any city...what are you going to do when you do not have a police force? Or..you don’t get enough candidates for openings. Don’t say it won’t happen because it already happening!

Cright
Cright

I would discourage my kids as much as possible against being a cop in CA. This state is a joke!!!!!

All5xx
All5xx

I wonder what statewide office Steinberg is shooting for, he is already termed out in the state assembly/senate?

J10107
J10107

Mayor Darrell "SIMPLETON" Steinberg will then put on a Florescent Safety Vest and Peddle his DUMB-ASS through the streets of Sacramento, ALL BY HIMSELF, to make the entire city safe and crime-free, so every Sacramento resident would be able to leave their windows open and their doors unlocked all day, and all night long !!!

tkshields
tkshields

send him to a shooting range or better yet when a shooting or shots fired send him in to get the or apprehend the suspect this is exactly whats wrong with liberals and their commitment to let criminals run wild and punish law abiding citizens

Grandmoi
Grandmoi

I feel very sorry for the police officers nearing retirement in ANY city in California...if they want to collect their well-earned pension, they must stay..if they stay, they risk being killed or being arrested for doing their job...meanwhile, the criminals feel the love from the cowardly politicians...

No. 26-50
bob95648
bob95648

My father retired from Sacramento PD in 1987. They were a world class department then. Today all they will hire are Social Workers with guns, so when the SHTF they don't know how to react. Calls are often delayed by several times the normal response time in that neighborhood because officers will not respond without a large tactical force advantage. Residents have learned to lie and tell 911 Operators the situation involves a gun or other deadly weapon to expedite police response. It is my understanding that is true in this case as well.

BlueProtects
BlueProtects

We can't hold people responsible on an aftermath after the situation. That Mayor should be tested on the Police gun scenario course and check his reactions. People need to take responsibility for their actions. Common Sense tells you when an Officer is around and you have an item then looks at all like a gun you don't point it at an Officer because if you do there is a chance that you will be shot. I'd hate to see an Officer die because in the after math it would show that he should have shot.

Ljubica48
Ljubica48

“What matters most now is what we do going forward together,” Steinberg said. “The current constitutional standard that dates back to, I believe, the 1800s says that if an officer-involved shooting is deemed reasonable after the fact, that it is then justifiable. I believe that that standard needs to be changed. I think the question must be, was the shooting preventable?”

The proposed change in law would allow officers to be prosecuted for shootings which could, in hindsight, be deemed unnecessary, such as shooting a suspect with an imitation or unloaded firearm.

Hindsight is always 20-20. New rules would require that officers cannot use deadly force until AFTER a suspect has shot at them, thus verifying that the suspect had a loaded firearm and not an unloaded or replica gun. Of course then the question the officers will have to answer before they can defend themselves is whether the round that the suspect fired at them was the only live round in the suspect's gun, and now the suspect's gun is not loaded with live rounds. If it turns out that the suspect's gun is not functional after he fired that first round, then officers will be criminally prosecuted if they return fire.

Wilk
Wilk

New rule "Respond after facts" easy! Just do the paperwork.

Old Hawg
Old Hawg

The more information which comes out, the more this looks like a "suicide by cop'" scenario. I'd not be surprised in the least if the "baby mama" told he police that Clark was armed, either.