SACRAMENTO — The civil rights attorney for Stephon Clark’s family says that the Sacramento County District Attorney’s release of text messages between the 22-year-old man and his fiancée was a “miscarriage of justice.”
Attorney Ben Crump, at an event celebrating the legacy of Clark, who was shot and killed by two Sacramento police officers exactly one year ago today, was critical of Sacramento County District Attorney Anne Marie Schubert’s handling of the case.
Crump cited that the text messages of Clark and Salena Manni, 24, were irrelevant to the shooting. Schubert cleared the officers of any wrongdoing while using the couple’s text messages as a factor to define Clark’s mental state of mind.
“It was one of the most desperate attempts I’ve ever seen by a district attorney to try to justify the unjustifiable,” Crump told The OBSERVER. “It was not only an insult on top of injury, but she took the old playbook when they kill us and took it to a whole new level. First they assassinate the person, and secondly, they assassinate their character. That’s exactly what she did. We think that was a miscarriage of justice.”
On March 2, Schubert announced that her office would not file charges against the police officers, Terrence Mercadal and Jared Robinet, who shot and killed Clark, 22, in the backyard of his grandmother’s home in Sacramento on March 18, 2018.
Clark was unarmed and holding nothing but a cell phone when he was shot at 20 times, seven bullets hitting his person. The police were responding to a 911 call of someone breaking out windows in the neighborhood of Meadowview. Schubert said that suspect was Clark.
Among several points Schubert made to justify her decision, she added an alleged domestic issue Mannie and Clark may have had on March 16, two days before he died. From there, Schubert disclosed information from private text messages exchanged between the couple.
That action alone drew the ire of the Clark-Thompson family, the community, and Sacramento City Councilman Allen Wayne Warren, who condemned the D.A.’s move in a written statement he released last week.
In Schubert’s March 2 presentation, that took more than an hour, she said “many things were weighing heavily” on Clark’s mind and suggested the notion of suicide was one of them. The D.A. also inferred that the couple’s issues and text messages were the “central theme between the two.”
“Our District Attorney over justified the killing of an unarmed Black man by releasing his private communications with the mother of his children,” Warren said of Schubert in his prepared statement. “I condemn the public portrayal of Stephon Clark by our District Attorney as suicidal, and I object to her putting his personal communications on public display.”
Two days after Schubert revealed her decision, California Attorney General Xavier Becerra said that his office completed its investigation and would not pursue charges of the police officers.
In January, Crump and his team of lawyers filed a $20 million wrongful-death lawsuit in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of California for the Clark-Thompson family. The complaint claims the officers racially profiled Clark and used excessive force.
Crescenzo Vellucci reported for the Davis Vanguard that the U.S. District judge presiding over the case encouraged the family and the city of Sacramento to settle the case out of court, saying that the case would not go to trial until 2021.
Crump would not say whether or not the D.A.’s decision to release the Clark’s and Manni’s text messages stood on legal ground. But Crump certainly was not buying the suicide-by-cop theory he thinks Schubert implied.
“He was trying to get into his house,” Crump said. “If it was truly what she said it was, that he was trying to commit suicide by cop, then he should have all eight bullets in front of him. Why are the majority of the bullets in his back?”
Crump made a visit to Sacramento in time to participate in the Clark-Thompson family’s “Legacy Weekend,” a four-day event held in honor of the one-year anniversary of the shooting death of Stephon Clark.
A teen summit, a brunch for mothers of victims that fell behind police officers’ gunfire, and day of peace were all held in the neighborhood of Meadowview.
The event ends today with several community activities on the schedule, including the 6:00 p.m. appearance of civil rights activist Rev. Al Sharpton at the Guild Theater in the neighborhood of Oak Park. Rev. Sharpton delivered Clark’s eulogy.
By Antonio R. Harvey | OBSERVER Staff Writer
OBSERVER photo by Antonio R. Harvey