Family of Unarmed Man Killed for Holding Cellphone Settles for $2.4 Million
Stephon Clark died in a hail of bullets in his grandmother's backyard last year after a pair of California cops opened fire thinking he had a gun, shooting 20 times into the darkness, claiming they were in fear for their lives.
But the 22-year-old man was only holding a cell phone.
However, Sacramento police officers Terrence Mercadal and Jared Robinet were cleared of any wrongdoing by the district attorney because of the tired old adage that cops "are often forced to make split-second decisions.",
Nevertheless, Clark's family sued and have settled for $2.4 million this week. The money will go towards Clark's two sons, ages 2 and 5, when they reach the age of 22. Each son will receive $900,000 after the attorneys are paid.
According to the New York Times:
The settlement came after negotiations between Sacramento and Mr. Clark’s family, which had filed a $20 million wrongful-death lawsuit in January against the city and the two officers involved in the shooting, which occurred in the backyard of Mr. Clark’s grandparents.
The officers, Terrence Mercadal and Jared Robinet, did not face criminal prosecution for their actions on March 18, 2018, when they were dispatched to the Meadowview neighborhood of Sacramento to investigate reports of a person smashing car windows.
Body camera footage showed the officers yelling, “Show me your hands — gun, gun, gun,” before firing 20 times into the darkness at Mr. Clark, 22, who did not have a weapon and had been holding a cellphone. The lack of charges against the two officers, who are still employed and had turned off an audio recording of the exchange, prompted protests.
The shooting sparked months of protests and a change in the state law requiring cops to use deadly force only “when necessary in defense of human life" where before cops were allowed to use of deadly force when “reasonable.”
But what is reasonable for a cop is generally unreasonable for the general population as we keep learning with court decisions clearing cops of crimes that would normally lead to prison time for anybody else.
Watch video of the shooting below.