The Sacramento Police Department provided more details Tuesday regarding a shooting that occurred Sunday where officers fatally shot an unarmed black man in his own backyard, mistaking his cellphone for a weapon.
The Sacramento County coroner’s office Tuesday identified the victim as 22-year-old Stephon Alonzo Clark. Clark was shot 20 times Sunday night in the backyard of the south Sacramento home he shared with his grandparents and some of his siblings, Clark’s brother confirmed to the Sacramento Bee.
The police department officials said the officers were responding to a call of a person breaking car windows nearby.
They reached 7500 block of 29th Street around 9:15 p.m. EDT on Sunday after receiving a call that a six-foot-one man wearing a black hooded sweatshirt and dark pants was breaking into vehicles. The caller reported to the authorities the man had broken car windows and was hiding in a backyard, the authorities said.
Deputies who responded to the incident told the police department the suspect reportedly had used a “toolbar” to break another home’s window.
A Sacramento County Sheriff’s Department’s helicopter circling overhead spotted a man in a backyard at about 9:25 p.m. EDT and directed police officers toward him, authorities said.
The helicopter deputies then spotted the suspect running south, toward the front of the house, where he reportedly jumped a fence into his grandparents’ yard, and then stopped and looked into another car, police said.
The suspect then reportedly fled toward the back of the home. The officers said they chased him to the backyard, where he then turned and advanced toward them “while holding an object which was extended in front of him.”
“The officers believed the suspect was pointing a firearm at them. Fearing for their safety, the officers fired their duty weapons striking the suspect multiple times,” the police department said, according to the Los Angeles Times. “The involved officers held their position for approximately five minutes, until additional officers arrived. Officers approached the suspect, handcuffed him and began life saving efforts.”
However, no firearm was discovered from the scene. Instead, investigators found a cellphone near Clark’s body. He was pronounced dead at the scene Sunday.
Stephon Alonzo Clark, whose legal name is Stephan Clark, was a stay-at-home father of two young sons, aged one and three, according to his family. He was a Sacramento High School alumnus, who had a fondness for sneakers, football and video games. He is survived by his two young sons, Cairo and Aiden, Sacramento Bee reported.
“An innocent black man, going to his grandma and grandpa’s house where he lived,” Clark’s aunt, Shernita Crosby said. “How are you going to explain that? How are you going to justify that?”
The officers, who were involved in the shooting, were placed on paid administrative leave while the incident is still being investigated, which is the standard department protocol in cases of an police-involved shootings.
Both the officers at the scene were wearing body cameras. Police said they plan on releasing images from those cameras along with video and audio from the law enforcement helicopter that was circling overhead and giving directions. Neither of the officers was injured during the incident.