SAN FRANCISCO — Today, federal authorities announced that they would not bring civil rights charges against the police officers who shot and killed Stephon Clark, who was unarmed, in his grandmother’s backyard on March 18, 2018. The announcement marks this as the third law enforcement agency to fail to hold the officers accountable.
Kathleen Guneratne, Senior Staff Attorney at the ACLU-NC, had this to say in response:
Our hearts go out to Mr. Clark’s loved ones, his friends, and the entire Sacramento community. We stand with the Clark family and community as they are forced to live through the nightmare of being traumatized by a system of policing that violently kills unarmed Black men at alarming rates and retraumatized by a justice system that is set up to sanction these unnecessary killings.
These officers should have been held accountable for killing Stephon Clark. Police should never take a life when they have alternatives. For far too long, California has ignored the disproportionate police killings of Black and Latino people.
With the passage of AB 392, we finally have a chance to change that. With the new law, which will take effect Jan. 1st, California will go from having one of the deadliest use of force laws in the country, to having one of the strongest. AB 392 updates California’s overly permissive use of force law to require that officers only use deadly force when necessary. Raising California’s use of force standard from “reasonable” to “necessary” is long overdue.
We know stricter use of force policies work to reduce incidents of use of force, save lives, and keep officers safe. We intend to continue to work with impacted families and communities to ensure that the promise of AB 392 is realized and that police are finally held accountable for unlawful killings.