The grandmother of Stephon Clark, the unarmed black man shot and killed by Sacramento police in his backyard, made an emotional appeal for justice Monday, saying there was no reason to use such deadly force.
"They didn't have to kill him like that. They didn't have to shoot him," Sequita Thompson said at a news conference where the family announced that they would be paying for an independent autopsy.
Several prominent civil rights organizations, including the National Action Network, the Sacramento NAACP, and Black Lives Matter, also called for an independent investigation into Clark's death.
"I just want justice for my grandson, my daughter, my grandkids," Thompson said. "They're in so much pain. I want justice for Stephon Clark!"
On Tuesday, state Attorney General Becerra said his office would provide "independent oversight" of the police investigation into Clark's death.
"Our city is at a critical point right now, and I believe this will help build faith and confidence in the investigation from our community," Sacramento Police Chief Daniel Hahn said.
Thompson was watching a video of her 7-year-old granddaughter dancing on March 18 when she said she heard the shots that killed her 22-year-old grandson, though she didn't know it at the time. She told reporters that she got down on the floor and crawled with her granddaughter through the house to ask her husband to call 911. He told her that Clark had been at the window just a moment before the gunshots.
Officers had been searching the neighborhood for someone they said had been smashing windows.
Thompson has previously told the Sacramento Bee that her grandson and others would often knock on the back window to ask her or her husband to let them in through the garage door, which they use as the main entrance because of their poor mobility and a broken front doorbell.
In one bodycam video, an officer shouts, "Hey! Show me your hands! Stop! Stop!" as Clark runs toward the backyard.
"Show me your hands! Gun gun gun!" the officer shouts again, before firing several rounds.
Police, believing Clark to be armed, fired at him 20 times. It turned out he was holding a cell phone. The two officers each fired 10 rounds, but it was unclear how many times he was hit, pending the results of the official autopsy, police said.
Clark's brother Stevante told the Guardian he doesn't feel safe living in Sacramento because of how police treated his brother.
"They gunned him down like a dog. They executed him," he said. "Twenty times. That’s like stepping on a roach. And then stepping, stepping, stepping, stepping, stepping, stepping, stepping."
The fatal encounter has sparked widespread outrage and demonstrations in Sacramento for days, at one point delaying an NBA game.
Rev. Shane Harris of the National Action Network said that the group's founder, the Rev. Al Sharpton, would deliver the eulogy at Clark's funeral on Thursday.
Meanwhile, speaking to reporters at the White House on Monday, deputy press secretary Raj Shah said he was not aware of President Trump's position on the case. "I haven't asked him about that directly," Shah said. "Obviously, the president cares about any individual who would be harmed through no fault of their own."
The state attorney general’s office will provide independent oversight of the police investigation. A previous version of this post stated that it would launch its own inquiry.
Blake Montgomery is a reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in San Francisco.
Contact Blake Montgomery at email@example.com.
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