Stephon Clark suffered eight gunshot wounds during a fatal encounter with police in Sacramento, California, according to an independent autopsy released by the family.
Dr. Bennet Omalu, a medical examiner hired on behalf of Clark’s family, presented his findings to reporters Friday, saying that most of the officers’ bullets entered the 22-year-old unarmed black man from behind and from his side. Omalu said most of the gunshot wounds were clustered in Clark’s right back and shoulder. He was also shot twice in the neck, once in the armpit and once in the leg, Omalu said.
While Sacramento County officials said earlier this week that Clark died of gunshot wounds, a final autopsy report from the Sacramento County Coroner won’t be available until weeks from now, so the family sought a second, independent autopsy for Clark’s body.
— Joe Fryer (@joefryer) March 30, 2018
On the night of March 18, Clark was shot at 20 times after officers confronted him outside his grandparents’ home while responding to a report of a suspect breaking into cars. Clark’s death has touched off near-daily protests, led by his brother Stevante Clark.
Benjamin Crump, the attorney for Clark’s family, told reporters at Friday’s news conference that the findings contradicted Sacramento police’s characterization of the encounter, which suggested Clark was advancing toward officers.
“The narrative that had been put forth was that they had to open fire because [Clark] was charging at them. Obviously based on Dr. Omalu’s findings and the family’s autopsy, it suggests all the bullets were from behind,” Crump said.
The Sacramento Police Department said in a statement to NBC News that it had yet to receive the official coroner’s report into Clark’s death.
“Further comment by the Sacramento Police Department prior to the release of the Coroner’s report along with the official review by the Sacramento County District Attorney and the California Department of Justice would be inappropriate at this time,” the department said in a statement.
According to body camera footage that captured the fatal encounter, one of the two responding officers shouted that Clark had a gun before they fired their weapons.
“Fearing for their safety, the officers fired their duty weapons striking the suspect multiple times,” according to an initial police report on the incident.
After the shooting, a cell phone — and not a gun — was recovered from the scene.
Crump told the NewsHour in an interview Thursday that he did not believe body camera footage indicated that Clark had a gun nor that he was a threat. Crump added that police did not appear to fully identify themselves to Clark.
“[Officers] also gave [Clark] no humanity after they executed him,” Crump said. “I mean, they shot him 20 times. And when you think about that, they could have done so many things differently,” he added.
The city has requested independent oversight from the state’s Department of Justice, partly as a gesture to show an angered community that the investigation would be fair and impartial. Critics of the police response have asked why the officers muted their body cameras when other police staff arrived on scene, and why did the officers did not immediately offer medical assistance to Clark.
The family said it had planned on filing a federal lawsuit soon over Clark’s death.