Protests erupted in the city of Sacramento after the bodycam footage showing police shooting multiple times at a 22-year-old car thief who ran from them and whom they thought was holding a gun went viral.
Police explained that the video, captured by body cameras worn by officers involved in Sunday night’s confrontation, showed how the victim, young Mr Stephon Clark, was holding an object which later turned out to be a cell phone as he was shot 20 times.
<blockquote class="twitter-video" data-lang="en"><p lang="en" dir="ltr">WARNING: THIS VIDEO CONTAINS GRAPHIC CONTENT.<br>The moments leading up to <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/StephonClark?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#StephonClark</a>'s shooting from 2 body cameras and an aerial perspective. <br>"Gun, gun gun!" - an officer yells. Police later said they believed Clark had a toolbar, but only found a cellphone. <a href="https://twitter.com/ABC10?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@ABC10</a> <a href="https://t.co/pNClIQyCHf">pic.twitter.com/pNClIQyCHf</a></p>— Frances Wang (@FrancesWangTV) <a href="https://twitter.com/FrancesWangTV/status/976613912060747776?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">March 22, 2018</a></blockquote>
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After the images went viral, some 200 demonstrators gathered on to denounce the shooting in a protest organized by the Black Lives Matter movement.
Mayor Darrell Steinberg said he was appalled by video of the shooting: “Like any compassionate person, I was horrified by the death of a young Sacramento man who we later found out had two kids.”
“What was my reaction? It was horrible.”
According to Sacramento police, the shooting happened after a report that someone in the area had been breaking car windows in a residential area. Officers indeed later found three damaged vehicles.
The suspect could also be seen from a helicopter shattering a glass door of a house before jumping a fence into a yard next door.
Furthermore, police explain the shooting as young Mr Clark was seen to “advance forward with his arms extended and holding an object,” which they in error assumed was a gun.