The family of Stephon Clark filed a federal civil right lawsuit on Monday, seeking at least $20 million from the city of Sacramento, Calif., and the two officers who gunned down the unarmed young father in his grandparents’ own backyard.
According to the Sacramento Bee, the suit, which was filed on behalf of Clark’s young sons, his parents and his grandparents, accuses officers of using deadly force against the 22-year-old for no reason.
“Both Officers Terrence Mercadal and Jared Robinet did not give [Clark] a verbal warning that deadly force would be used prior to shooting [Clark[ multiple times, despite it being feasible to do so and they did not issue appropriate commands to [Clark],” the lawsuit claims.
“Further, the involved officers did not announce themselves as police prior to the shooting. [Clark] never verbally threatened anyone prior to being fatally shot by Officers Terrence Mercadal and Jared Robinet,” the lawsuit added.
The lawsuit also accuses the city of not properly training its officers in the use of deadly force.
“The training policies of the defendant city police department were not adequate to train its police officers … with regards to using deadly force,” the suit alleges “As a result, city police officers … are not able to handle the usual and recurring situations with which they must deal, including making contact with unarmed individuals holding a cell phone.”
“These inadequate training policies existed prior to the date of this incident and continue to this day,” the suit added.
Meanwhile, city officials are waiting for the release of a report by District Attorney Anne Marie Schubert to see if the Officers Terrence Mercadal and Jared Robinet should face criminal charges in the shooting death.
Sacramento police did not offer any comment on the lawsuit, which has been long expected since Clark’s death and the fallout, protests and city hall meetings that followed.
City Attorney Susana Alcala-Wood also declined to offer substantial comment, citing pending litigation.
Police believed Clark was a burglary suspect when they encountered him. Allegedly believing that Clark had a gun, officers fired 20 shots at him. He was later found to be only carrying a cellphone.
An autopsy conducted for the Clark family by a private pathologist later ruled that Clark had been hit by eight bullets, most of which struck him in his back, prompting further outrage. As the Bee notes, the county’s autopsy disputed that claim, saying that he was shot seven times, with three rounds hitting him in the back.
“At the time of the shooting (Clark) posed no immediate threat of death or serious physical injury to either Officers Terrence Mercadal or Jared Robinet, or any other person, especially since he was unarmed and since he was going to the ground or already on the ground when he was shot, including multiple shots to his back,” the suit claims.