We also reviewed Sacramento Police Department policies and international guidelines, and talked to experts about police conduct.
Why are we doing this, and what does it explain?
Our goal was to shed new light on what happened during the encounter and to explain why it escalated so quickly.
It’s a detailed look at a person’s violent death and we can’t point to a single factor that explains why Stephon Clark was killed. Both officers had more than five years of experience in law enforcement, according to the Police Department.
This episode and other police killings of unarmed black people raise questions about structural racism, police training and use-of-force protocols. In Sacramento, officers can use deadly force not only as a last resort — but also if an officer “reasonably believes” there is a threat. And Sacramento isn’t the exception: Guidelines in many U.S. cities are generally less strict than international standards, which permit the use of force only in response to an “imminent threat,” and if all other means fail. Even when police officers in the U.S. are charged or indicted, they are rarely convicted. As of late last year, in 15 high-profile cases involving deaths of black people, only one officer faces prison time, according to research by The New York Times. The shooting of Mr. Clark is also complicated by the fact that one of the officers is white and the other is black, as the police videos show.
Background reading, watching and listening:
• 20 Shots in Sacramento: Stephon Clark Killing Reignites a Furor
• Stephon Clark’s Official Autopsy Conflicts With Earlier Findings
• “Charm City” – A Five Part Podcast About Police Violence in Baltimore from “The Daily”
• Black Lives Upended by Policing: The Raw Videos Sparking Outrage
• In 15 High-Profile Cases Involving Deaths of Blacks, One Officer Faces Prison Time