Stephon Clark's Grandma: 'Why Didn't They Just Shoot Him in the Arm?'

She calls for changes to police procedure
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Mar 26, 2018 6:30 PM CDT
Grandmother of Unarmed Man Killed by Police: 'I Want Justice'
A tearful Sequita Thompson, center, discusses the shooting of her grandson, Stephon Clark, during a news conference, Monday, March 26, 2018, in Sacramento, Calif. Clark, who was unarmed, was shot and killed by Sacramento police officers who were responding to a call about person smashing car windows...   (AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli)

The grandmother of an unarmed black man killed by Sacramento police called Monday for changes in the way police confront suspects, such as sending in a police dog, using a Taser, or aiming for an arm or leg when shots are fired. Sequita Thompson said at an emotional news conference that police didn't need to shoot at 22-year-old Stephon Clark 20 times, killing him in her darkened backyard March 18, the AP reports. "They didn't have to kill him like that, they didn't have to shoot him that many times," she said through sobs, recounting the night of his slaying. She believes Clark was in the backyard trying to get into the house he shared with his grandparents and other family members when he was shot. He's the latest prominent face of young black men killed by police nationwide, said the family's renowned civil rights attorney, Benjamin Crump. He called it an "execution" of a man who "chose nonviolence" and was found with only a cellphone and not the handgun police thought he was aiming in their direction.

Members of the Sacramento Kings and Boston Celtics NBA teams took up his cause Sunday, wearing Clark's name on black warm-up T-shirts three days after protesters formed a human chain blocking entrances to the Kings' Golden1 Center and prevented all but about 1,500 fans from entering. Leaders of the NAACP called for an independent investigation but said the two officers involved should be criminally charged. They want the Sacramento police department to change its foot pursuit policy to allow for options like waiting for backup, sending in a police dog, backing off and maintaining surveillance or using less-than-lethal force like Tasers during confrontations. State NAACP President Alice Huffman said the organization has asked the US Justice Department's civil rights division to investigate the killing. The group also wants California to create an inspector general to investigate police-involved shootings.

(More Stephon Clark stories.)

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