Pathologist: Stephon Clark was shot 8 times, 7 from behind
Sacramento police shot Stephon Clark seven times from behind, according to autopsy results released Friday by a pathologist hired by Clark’s family, findings that call into question the department’s assertion that the 22-year-old black man was facing officers and walking toward them when he was killed.
Dr. Bennet Omalu, whose study of a degenerative brain condition in football players prompted the NFL to adopt new safety rules designed to prevent concussions, also determined Clark took up to 10 minutes to die.
Police officers, concerned Clark could be alive and armed, waited about five minutes to approach him after the shooting in his grandmother’s backyard. Clark was not armed; police apparently mistook a cellphone in his hand for a gun.
“The proposition is he was facing officers is inconsistent with prevailing forensic evidence,” Omalu said at a news conference with family attorney Benjamin Crump.
He said it was not clear if Clark would have survived had he gotten immediate medical attention, and he noted that any of the six bullets that hit him in the back and one in the neck could have been the fatal shot. An eighth bullet went into Clark’s thigh.
A day after the March 18 shooting, police distributed a press release that said the officers who shot Clark “saw the suspect facing them, advance forward with his arms extended, and holding an object in his hands.”
Police video of the shooting doesn’t clearly capture all that happened after Clark ran into his grandmother’s backyard. He initially moved toward the officers, who are peeking out from behind a corner of the house, but it’s not clear he’s facing them or that he knows they are there when they open fire after shouting “gun, gun, gun.”
After 20 shots, officers call to him, apparently believing he might still be alive and armed. They eventually approach and find no gun, just a cellphone.