*Tensions are on edge in California’s capital city after it was announced on Saturday afternoon that two Sacramento police officers would not be charged for the fatal shooting of an unarmed black man almost a year ago.
Sacramento County District Attorney Anne Marie Schubert said Officers Terrance Mercadal and Jared Robinet acted lawfully when they used lethal force against Stephon Clark. The officers said they thought Clark, had a gun but investigators found only a cellphone.
“We must recognize that they are often forced to make split-second decisions and we must recognize that they are under tense, uncertain and rapidly evolving circumstances,” Schubert said.
With the announcement, the city had been bracing for protests and possible violence. Business owners were warned by a business association to stay away from downtown at least through the weekend. Additionally, state government workers were told legislative officials the same thing.
It’s not musch comfort to Clark’s family, but Schubert said the decision not to file charges against the officers “does not diminish in any way the tragedy, the anger and the frustration that we heard since the time of his death.”
She added: “We cannot ignore that there is rage within our community.”
As was reported at the time, protests after the shooting were largely peaceful but disrupted downtown professional basketball games and freeway traffic.
Clark’s family, including his two sons, his parents and his grandparents, filed a wrongful death lawsuit in January seeking more than $20 million from the city, Mercadal and Robinet, alleging that the officers used excessive force and that he was a victim of racial profiling.
One of the officers who shot Clark is black and the other is white.