Of the 20 shots fired by Sacramento, California, police officers, unarmed black man Stephon Clark was hit by eight, according to an autopsy commissioned by his family. Seven of the shots came from behind and one from the side.
The findings contradict the initial police report that said the African-American man was advancing on the officers, said Benjamin Crump, the attorney for Clark’s family.
“This independent autopsy affirms that Stephon was not a threat to police and was slain in another senseless police killing under increasingly questionable circumstances,” Crump said in a statement.
Stephon Clark was hit by eight of the 20 bullets, per Dr. Bennet Omalu, who performed a second autopsy on March 27. Six of the wounds entered him from the back. All of them had “fatal capacity,” meaning any one would have killed him. “Death was not instantaneous,” said Dr. Omalu. pic.twitter.com/YdEA9yKZXo
— Jamil Smith (@JamilSmith) March 30, 2018
On the evening of March 18, Clark, 22, was fatally shot in his grandmother’s backyard when officers mistook his cell phone for a gun. The officers fired 20 shots. According to Dr. Bennet Omalu, the medical examiner who conducted the autopsy, any of the seven bullets that entered the upper half of Clark’s body could have killed him.
“Each of these bullets independently possessed a fatal capacity,” Dr. Bennet Omalu, the forensic pathologist who conducted the autopsy, said at a press conference Friday. “All he needed was one of the seven to die.”
Clark was hit once in the upper leg, six times in the upper right back, and once through the neck, Omalu’s autopsy found.
The Sacramento Police Department (SPD) said it would have no further comment on the case until the official autopsy results are released, and the case can be reviewed by state and local prosecutors.
On Monday, the SPD said that the officers involved “saw the suspect facing them, advance forward with his arms extended, and holding an object in his hands.” They also released video from the officers’ body cameras and a police helicopter.
Sacramento Mayor Darrell Steinberg also said the public should wait for the official results, according to NPR.
Clark’s brother, Stevante, crashed a meeting of the Sacramento City Council earlier this week, telling the room that the “chief of police got my brother killed” and proclaiming, “We’re not immigrants, we’re sons of slaves.”
Crump has previously represented the relatives of two African-American teenagers: Michael Brown, who was killed by police in Ferguson, Missouri, in 2014, and Trayvon Martin, who was killed in an altercation with a neighborhood watchman in Florida in 2012.
Dr. Omalu is best known for his research into chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), due to his research involving American football players who had concussions. He worked as a medical examiner in the nearby San Joaquin County until December 2017. He and another colleague resigned in protest, accusing the sheriff of altering medical findings to cover up killings by police.