*One week after the slaying of Stephon Clark by Sacramento police officers, prosecutors in Baton Rouge, Louisiana announced that the officers who gunned down Alton Sterling will not be prosecuted.
The general reaction was ho hum, what else is new. The public cynicism over prosecuting cops who overuse deadly force against unarmed blacks is well warranted. The checklist of names–Tamir Rice, Ezell Ford, Eric Garner, Michael Brown—who in the past few years have been the victims of police violence, are well-known.
In every case, prosecutors have refused to file charges against any of the officers involved in their deaths. The stock reasons are that there were no credible tapes, eyewitness testimony, or reports that prove the officers acted recklessly, the victims resisted arrest, or that the officers legitimately feared for their life. So, will the Clark slaying be any different?
At first glance, it seems to have a better than even chance of beating the odds. Clark was unarmed. He was shot in his grandmother’s backyard. The officers did not have their body cams on, apparently in violation of department policy. The chatter on the audio of the shooting was ordered muffled—again, in apparent violation of department policy. Sacramento’s Police Chief and Mayor publicly raised questions about the shooting.
They took the unprecedented step of asking California Attorney General Xavier Becerra to have a hand in the investigation of the slaying. This was an obvious effort to head off the loud criticism that local DAs work hand in glove with local police and only in the rarest of rare cases will bring charges against officers who kill, no matter how blatant and outrageous the circumstances.
These are all pluses that give some hope that the Clark case will be different. But they don’t cancel out the still towering obstacles to bring charges against cops who kill. One, is the words uttered by nearly every officer in every slaying of an unarmed civilian, “I feared for my life or the life of others.”
These words are codified in law in many…………..(READ MORE)