Officers who killed Stephon Clark won't face federal civil rights charges

The two officers have returned to work.

September 27, 2019, 7:08 PM

Two police officers in Sacramento, California, are back on duty after federal authorities cleared them of federal criminal civil rights charges in the shooting death of 22-year-old Stephon Clark.

U.S. Attorney McGregor W. Scott and Special Agent-in-Charge Sean Ragan of the FBI's Sacramento Division said there was insufficient evidence "to prove beyond a reasonable doubt" that officers Terrance Mercadal and Jared Robinet violated a federal statute.

"The tragedy that took place after a 911 call to our communications center will always have a profound effect on our department and community as a whole," Sacramento Police Chief Daniel Hahn said in a statement. "We are forever dedicated to finding reasonable alternatives that may prevent similar tragedies."

Officials from the U.S. Attorney's Office and the FBI met with Clark's family to inform them of their decision on Thursday.

PHOTO: An undated family photograph of Stephon Clark who was holding his cellphone when he was fatally shot Sunday night by two Sacramento police officers who fired at him 20 times, the department said Tuesday.
An undated family photograph of Stephon Clark who was holding his cellphone when he was fatally shot Sunday night by two Sacramento police officers who fired at him 20 times, the department said Tuesday.
KXTV

Clark's death, which led to contentious protests throughout the California capital, should not result in charges, Hahn said, because every investigation of the shooting turned up the same results.

"This incident has been thoroughly investigated by law enforcement agencies at the local, state and federal levels," Hahn told ABC Sacramento station KXTV. "Every one of these independent examinations has reached the same finding: The use of deadly force in this case was lawful."

"The officers involved in this case will return to full, active duty," Hahn said in a statement.

PHOTO: This April 4, 2018, file photo shows protesters standing outside the office of Sacramento County District Attorney Anne Marie Schubert calling for the indictment of two Sacramento police officers in the shooting death of Stephon Clark.
This April 4, 2018, file photo shows protesters standing outside the office of Sacramento County District Attorney Anne Marie Schubert calling for the indictment of two Sacramento police officers in the shooting death of Stephon Clark, 22, during a rally in Sacramento, Calif.
Rich Pedroncelli/AP Photo

While authorities look to put the incident behind them, Clark's family said it doesn't make sense to already have the offices back on duty.

"My brother was killed, unarmed, in my grandmother's backyard, and the same cop who killed him is back on the streets patrolling other communities, running through other people's backyards," Clark's brother, Stevante told KXTV. "I'm uneasy with that. My heart is broken."

"Justice delayed is justice denied," Stevante wrote on his Facebook page.

Clark was killed March 18, 2018. He was shot eight times by officers who later said they mistook Clark's cellphone for a gun as he moved toward them with his arms extended, ignoring their commands, while in his grandmother's backyard. Twenty rounds were fired.

Police said they had been chasing Clark after receiving reports of someone breaking car windows in the nearby neighborhood.

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