By Antonio R. Harvey | Observer Staff Writer
SACRAMENTO – About an hour after Stevante Clark learned the fate of Derek Chauvin, the ex-cop convicted for the murder of George Floyd, he received an emotional telephone call from Columbus, Ohio.
Stevante, the elder brother of Stephon Clark, who was gunned down by two Sacramento police officers in the backyard of his grandparents’ home in March 2018, learned that 16-year-old Ma’Khia Bryant was shot and killed by an officer in Columbus, Ohio, on Tuesday afternoon.
“I was only able to soak in that moment (of justice) for a good hour or 45 minutes, and then another case pops up,” Clark told The OBSERVER by phone this week.
“So this is a fight that continues.”
The Columbus Police since have released body-cam footage from the officer who fired his weapon. The cop reportedly is not working in the field while Columbus’ Bureau Criminal of Investigations examines the case.
Clark, who previously lived in Youngstown, Ohio, said he is awaiting word if he’s needed to travel from Sacramento to Columbus to comfort and support the Bryants, and “welcome a family to a club no one wants to be part of.”
Sacramento County District Attorney Anne Marie Schubert decided in March 2019 not to charge the officers for killing Stephon Clark, who was shot when police say they mistook his cell phone for a firearm.
Days later, then-California Attorney General Xavier Becerra also chose not to file state charges. In September 2019, McGregor Scott of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of California, did not pick up the case either.
Stephon Clark’s family is getting a little satisfaction seeing justice can prevail in police brutality cases. Stevante Clark said his family had “Christian faith” that the Chauvin verdict would be just and compared it to a “victory on the right side of humanity.”
Stevante Clark said the Chauvin verdict provides a measure of justice for Stephon in the eyes of their mother Sequette Clark and grandmother Sequita Thompson, and in his eyes, a measure of accountability.
“And I want us as people to know the difference between justice and accountability,” he said. “But we have seen accountability. Like I’ve always said, slow progress is better than no progress.”
Chauvin was convicted of second-degree unintentional murder (causing death without intent by committing a felony); third-degree murder (causing death by an “eminently dangerous” act, showing a “depraved mind”); and second-degree manslaughter (causing death by unreasonable risk).
Civil Rights Attorney Ben Crump and Rev. Al Sharpton, who both are close to the Clark family, appeared with Floyd’s family members after the verdict was announced. Sharpton first led a prayer with the family.
“Let’s lean into this moment and let’s make sure that this moment will be documented for our children as they continue on the journey to justice knowing that the blood of George Floyd will give them a trail to find a way to a better America,” Crump said.
Stevante Clark said he did not anticipate the outcome of the trial, but that “America probably would have burned to the ground” if the case resulted in acquittal or a hung jury. He said prosecutors didn’t have to struggle to prove Chauvin guilty. Witnesses, medical experts, Chauvin’s former superiors and colleagues, and numerous cell phone videos “made it a slam dunk and clear case of murder,” Clark said.
“I could have tried that case myself and won it,” Clark said.
Clark also said that the conviction of Chauvin should put dirty cops on notice that they will be held responsible for brutalizing citizens buffered by the belief they won’t face harsh punishment. Chauvin could serve up to 40 years in prison.
“But next what we have to do is bridge the gap,” Clark said. “Now we have to have a dialogue with law enforcement. We have to have community listening and learning sessions where we can learn from law enforcement about really how tough their job is. And law enforcement can listen to the community about how tough it is in our community. We can listen and learn from one another.”