ACLU Statement in Response to California AG’s Independent Investigation into the Death of Stephon Clark

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SACRAMENTO – Today, California Attorney General Becerra announced that the state Department of Justice would not bring criminal charges against the police officers who shot and killed Stephon Clark, who was unarmed at the time, in his grandmother’s backyard on March 18, 2018. The announcement comes after days of protests in Sacramento following the decision by the county’s District Attorney who also declined to press charges against the officers.

Lizzie Buchen, legislative advocate for the ACLU of California’s Center for Advocacy and Policy, had this to say in response:

The Attorney General’s announcement comes as no surprise. While his office has declared they will not be holding the officers accountable for shooting and killing the unarmed Stephon Clark, there is more the Attorney General can do to ensure that other families do not have to suffer through the tragic nightmare Mr. Clark’s family is living.

We call on Attorney General Becerra to endorse Assembly Bill 392 (D-Weber), a bill to change the deadly use of force standard in California from a ‘reasonable’ to a ‘necessary’ standard to prevent more unnecessary police shootings.

There is no reason for the Attorney General, the top law enforcement officer in the state, to refrain from endorsing AB 392. Just a few weeks ago, the California Department of Justice issued a report urging the Sacramento Police Department to update its use of force policy. Those recommendations align with AB 392, which would establish a clearer deadly use of force standard and require that officers use de-escalation tactics and avoid using deadly force whenever possible.

Specifically, the Department of Justice recommended that the Sacramento Police Department ‘…require that officers exhaust all reasonably available alternatives before using deadly force,’ and ‘…make de-escalation an affirmative duty….’

The California Department of Justice recognizes that there is a lack of clarity and guidance for officers in determining when to use deadly force. It’s time to apply the department of justice’s recommendations statewide.

We know stricter use of force policies work to reduce incidents of use of force, save lives, and keep officers safe. The question is, which side of history will Attorney General Becerra stand on?”

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