Obtaining Justice for Stephon Clark

Stephon Clark with his fiance and two children before the shooting occurred. March 29, 2018

Stephon Clark with his fiance and two children before the shooting occurred. March 29, 2018

Samantha Lambert and Katelyn Lagasse

Staff Writers

$2.4 Million will be given to the two sons of Stephon Clark, an innocent black man who was wrongfully accused of holding a gun and was shot 7 times. 

22-year-old Clark lived with his fiance and two children in Sacramento, California. On March 18, 2018, police were responding to a report of a suspect breaking into a car,  and hiding in a backyard. The suspect was described to be a male with dark pants and a black hoodie. Although he was not armed, police shot Clark down in his grandmother’s backyard. The police who responded to the call said they saw Clark with an object in hand aimed at them. One of the officers claims to have remembered yelling “gun”, but when the scene was searched the only object found near Clark’s body was a cell phone.

The incident was taken to trial, and after a year, no charges were pressed against the officers who shot Clark. The officers simply returned back to their original positions at the station as usual. The case just recently closed in June of 2019, and residents are protesting against the state attorney general’s decision. When interviewing Evelyn Cespedes, a senior at Foran High and we asked her a few questions about her opinion regarding the trial that took place. Evelyn claims, “The police should have been charged because they left the family suffering.” She also says, “They were trying to find his mistakes, or even find their way around blaming the cops.” Like the residents of Sacramento, Evelyn believes there should have been some sort of consequence to obtain justice not only for Clark but for his family. Clark’s family filed a $20 million wrongful death lawsuit against Sacramento and its officers involved in the killing of Clark. They finally reached a settlement in June and Clark’s two sons will receive $2.4 million from the city and will be able to access the money tax-free when they turn 22. Most of the money was put in their trust fund, while a quarter of it is going to attorneys, including their lawyer Benjamin Crump. 

Many people believe that police brutality is a problem in our country, others believe people are making it out to be worse than it really is. School SRO, Taylor says, “ I believe it was once a problem, but now with the body cameras we wear,  if officers were to do something like that they would think twice.” He stresses how unfortunate the situation is, but he also gives reasoning towards the officer’s decision to shoot Clark. Taylor also states, “Everyone handles things differently and not all officers have the same training. In situations where officers are told there’s a weapon, it puts them at a high level of anxiety.” At the end of the day, everyone seems to be devastated and wishing the best for Clark’s family, and for others in similar situations.