Bright light on family of Sacramento police shooting victim
SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) — A blinding national spotlight is shining on the family of Stephon Clark, the 22-year-old unarmed black man killed by Sacramento police last week.
"You don't know what it's like until you experience it," Clark's uncle, Curtis Gordon, told The Associated Press in an interview Tuesday. "You can see it on TV, it's totally OK to deal with those realities when it's just through a television and they're not in your home. It's different now."
Television cameras and national media were there Monday for a news conference where Gordon supported Clark's grandmother, who sobbed uncontrollably as she recounted the shooting and asked why something significantly less lethal than a barrage of 20 bullets could not have been used by police.
They were there Tuesday morning when the city's first black police chief pleaded for calm after more than a week of unrest and later in the day when Clark's brother and supporters disrupted a City Council meeting and then demonstrators for a second time blocked thousands of NBA fans from entering the arena for the hometown Kings game.
They will be there today for Clark's wake and on Thursday when the Rev. Al Sharpton plans to give the eulogy at Clark's funeral.
For all the angst and raw emotions, grieving and weary family members are skeptical any substantive change will result before the next young black man dies from police gunfire and siphons away the national media and banner headlines.
"So we appreciate the conversation, but conversation without implementation of some true reformation means nothing," Gordon said. "It brought us to this moment, but what about tomorrow? What about next week?"
Clark was killed March 18 when two Sacramento police officers responding to a report of someone breaking car windows fatally shot him in his grandparents' backyard. Police say they believe Clark was the suspect and he ran when a police helicopter responded, then did not obey officers' orders.