Statement by Brian Panish on Sacramento DA’s Decision Not to File Charges in Shooting Death of Stephon Clark

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Nearly one year after Stephon Clark was fatally shot by Sacramento police in his grandparent’s backyard, Sacramento District Attorney Anne Marie Schubert announced there would be no charges filed against officers Terrence Mercadal and Jared Robinet. The officers told investigators they thought Stephon was advancing on them and brandishing a gun, not a cell phone.

In response to the decision rendered by the Sacramento District Attorneys Office, attorneys for Clark’s children and family issued the following statements:

Brian Panish, attorney for the children of Stephon Clark:  “It was clear today that the Sacramento District Attorney had chosen to advocate for officers Terrence Mercadal and Jared Robinet rather than the victim, Stephon Clark. Multiple shots to Stephon’s back tell a very different story than the cherry-picked facts presented today, fatal shots that left Stephon without a voice, his children without a father and a community to mourn the injustice of another officer involved shooting. The City has once again failed Stephon Clark, his family and the people of Sacramento. It’s unfortunate that justice for Stephon and his family must now be decided and delivered by a civil court.”

Ben Crump, Co-counsel, added:  “Stephon Clark’s death was a tragedy, and the District Attorney’s decision not to bring charges makes it a double tragedy.  The impact of his loss on his children and his family are incalculable.  The key and inescapable fact that the DA failed to even acknowledge is that Stephon was shot in the back multiple times. If he was advancing on the officers, why was he shot in the back and the side?  Why were 20 shots fired, striking him eight times, even while falling to the ground and while on the ground? These facts cannot be reconciled with the D.A.’s narrative that the officers were in fear of their lives. This complex case should have been brought before a judge and jury in a criminal trial.  That it wasn’t denies the community the full benefit of our justice system. The question remains: If Stephon were a white man in a white neighborhood, would he have been shot? And if he was shot, would the officers responsible not be brought to justice? Although the D.A. foreclosed on the possibility for justice through the criminal system, we will pursue justice for Stephon’s family in the civil courts with all vigor.”

Dale Galipo, Co-counsel, added:  “I’m not surprised but very disappointed. The statistics are staggering. The reluctance of District Attorneys across the country to prosecute police officers is why we have so many unjustified police shootings. Despite the findings of the DA, I believe the shooting was completely unjustified.  I’m confident that we will be able to obtain justice for the family in the civil case.”

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