A 22-year-old black man was fatally shot by Sacramento police in his own back yard on Sunday night. Now officers are clarifying that he was carrying a cell phone, not a "tool bar" as previously thought.
Stephon Clark was killed in the backyard of the home he shared with his grandmother, grandfather, and some siblings, his 25-year-old brother Stevante Clark said to The Sacramento Bee on Monday.
The Sunday night incident began with officers responding to a call of a person breaking car windows nearby, the police department said. Police believed that Clark was armed with a gun. Though no firearm was found at the scene, police claimed to have seen Clark with an "object" that he "extended in front of him" as he approached the two officers.
An earlier 911 call reported a man breaking into parked vehicles in the neighborhood and the caller told police that the suspect had been hiding in a backyard, according to Newsweek. A helicopter deployed by the Sacramento Sheriff's Department responded to the call, along with the two officers, and told police that they spotted a suspect pick up a toolbar, break a window to a residence, then run into the backyard of another home, which turned out to be his own.
When the two officers came onto the scene, they fired multiple shots at Clark, a father of two, and he was pronounced dead at the scene.
"The officers believed the suspect was pointing a firearm at them," the Sacramento Police Department said in a statement. "Fearing for their safety, the officers fired their duty weapons striking the suspect multiple times. The involved officers held their position for approximately five minutes, until additional officers arrived. Officers approached the suspect, handcuffed him and began life saving efforts."
Details are fuzzy about what the suspected "tool bar" could have been; police telling the Sacramento Bee it could have been a cinder block or a piece of aluminum siding. Regardless, it was later disclosed Clark wasn't holding a "tool bar" when he was shot.
Meanwhile, the victim's brother Stevante told Newsweek that police did not immediately inform the family that Clark had been killed right outside of their home. Instead, police came to the door and told their grandmother that there was a "crime scene" outside of her home and to not look out the window.
"She looked out the window anyway and saw him. She looked straight at the cops and she said 'you all murdered him'," Stevante said to Newsweek. "The thing I keep thinking about is that it could have been me, just trying to get into my grandma's house."
Black Lives Matter Sacramento quickly condemned the SPD over their "deadly failure to keep us protected and served" and, on Monday night, activists led more than 100 people, including family members, in a vigil and protest, according to Slate.
A GoFundMe page was set up to help pay for Clark's funeral expenses so that he could be buried next to another brother, who was killed a few years ago also by gun violence, Stevante told The Sacramento Bee. Oxygen has not confirmed the GoFundMe page is authentic.
"He would not want for us to be sad but to come together," he said. "He was a good person. He always had jokes for everybody."
Meanwhile, the two officers involved were both wearing body cameras and the department promises to release footage of the incident within 30 days, according to Vibe. Both officers involved are currently on administrative leave.