A black man's life was cut short by police in his own backyard.
On March 18, 2018, Sacramento police fatally shot 22-year-old Stephon Clark behind the home he shared with his grandparents.
According to the Sacramento Bee, officers were responding to reports of someone breaking car windows in the area. Officers claim they believed Stephon was the culprit and had been carrying a weapon. They shot at him 20 times.
On Saturday, Sacramento's District Attorney attempted to posthumously strip Stephon of his humanity while asserting the two officers who killed him were justified in killing the young father. In the same breath, she cited a toxicology report and an incident in which cops were called to his home days before. Thus, his shooting will not go to trial as have a number of other incidents involving unarmed Black men and fatally trigger-happy police. Stephon’s identity was predictably reimagined as that of someone deserving of the unapologetic devaluation of Black lives. Despite the DA's aforementioned remarks, use the below as reference points when remembering his name:
1. Stephon was a stay-at-home father.
“@NAACP @NAACP_LDF @CaNaacp this is Stephon Alonzo Clark father of two; Husband and provider for his family gunned down in his grandmothers back yard by @SacPolice he was shot at 9:18 and his family wasn’t even notified until 4am. Please help his family get justice.” pic.twitter.com/IEtDNL6Zw6— 3️⃣ (@g3_ftl) March 19, 2018
Stephon's death leaves 3-year-old Aiden and 1-year-old Cairo to grow up without a father.
2. His kids weren’t the only ones whose lives will be haunted by the killing.
Stephon lived with his grandparents and siblings. Friends often referred to him as “Zoe” which is short for his middle name, Alonzo.
3. He was killed by Sacramento police officers who thought he was carrying a gun, no … a tool bar, right?
Police had differing accounts of what they believed Clark was carrying. They initially claimed it was a gun then later said it was tool bar that posed a threat. The actual culprit was a rose-gold iPhone 6 belonging to his girlfriend Salena Manni. The cell phone was the only item found on Stephon.
4. There’s a reason his name is being spelled differently throughout media outlets.
To separate his name from that of his father’s, Stephon changd his birth name of “Stephan” to “Stephon.” Throughout our reporting, we’ll honor his preference.
5. Two police officers shot 22-year-old Stephon 20 times.
Each of the two officers involved fired 10 rounds. They then waited five minutes before administering CPR to Stephon.
6. Unbeknownst to his grandmother, she’d been speaking with police for hours while her grandson laid dead in her backyard.
Although it’s unclear why police were interviewing Stephon’s grandmother Sequita Thompson for hours — if not to tell her they just killed grandson — she was nonetheless unaware he’d been fatally shot in her backyard hours ago. She told the Sacramento Bee, “I opened that curtain and he was dead. I started screaming.”
7. Police claim they gave commands for Stephon to put his hands up. His grandmother just heard shots.
According to the Los Angeles Times, police said they told Stephon to stop and put his hands up before shooting. His grandmother said she heard nothing but gunfire.
8. Gun violence makes for an utterly tragic family affair.
Stephon's 25-year-old brother Stevante told the Sacramento Bee he wants Stephon buried next to their brother who also lost his life to gun violence.
9. Now, we wait.
In 2016, Sacramento police established that police would be required to wear body cameras while on-duty. Bodycam footage of Stephon's shooting won’t be made public for another 30 days.
In the meantime, we vow to continue saying — and tweeting– his name. Stephon Clark's legacy won't be reduced to a product of anyone's botched narrative.