STUDIO CITY (CBSLA) — The fatal shooting of an unarmed black man by police in Sacramento this week has prompted hundreds of demonstrators to take to the Capitol city’s streets and a freeway.
Protesters gathered peacefully just after noon Friday near Sacramento’s Tower bridge, a day after demonstrators blocked portions of Interstate 5 on their way to the Golden 1 Center arena during the Sacramento Kings game, CBS Sacramento reported. They were speaking out against what they see as the unjustified shooting of Stephon Clark Sunday by Sacramento police.
Police blocked I-5 on-ramps to prevent the demonstrators from making onto the freeway again.
Eventually, protesters encountered police on horseback and in riot gear. One protestor was seen standing on top of a moving vehicle in the afternoon. Another protester punched out that minivan’s back window.
The outrage stems from authorities’ claim they fired 20 shots at Clark, 22, after he was suspected of breaking car windows in a South Sacramento neighborhood. Police helicopter footage shows Clark evading police on foot. Deputies said they saw Clark break a neighbor’s sliding glass door before jumping a fence, eventually ending up in his grandparents’ backyard.
Police claim they believed Clark, once cornered, had a gun in his hand and feared for their lives, prompting two officers to fatally shoot him. No gun was ever recovered — just a cellphone.
It is one more incident many see as the latest in a pattern of the country’s law enforcement agencies’ continued shootings of unarmed black men.
Stevante Clark, Stephon’s brother, told CBS News the name of the late father of two would be remembered like other young, unarmed black men killed by police in recent years.
“You’re going to know his name forever,” Stevante said. “You’re going to remember it like how you know Trayvon Martin, Mike Brown, Eric Garner, Tamir Rice. You’re going to know him. You’re going to remember this.”
Clark’s family disputes police claims. They have hired civil rights attorney Ben Crump, who represented the family of Martin, Brown and others.
“The shooting death of Stephon Clark is an all-too-common tragedy. It is yet another troubling example of a young, unarmed black man being shot by police under highly questionable circumstances,” Crump said in a statement.
Thursday night, protesters locked arms, blocking the Golden1 Center where the Kings were playing the Atlanta Hawks.
The game was delayed for 19 minutes due to the demonstrations, but Kings owner Vivek Randivé addressed the shooting from center court after the game.
His following remarks were met with applause:
“On Sunday, we had a horrific, horrific tragedy in our community,” Randivé said. “And on behalf of the players, the executives ownership and the entire Kings family, first of all, wanted to express our deepest sympathies to the family. What happened was absolutely horrific, and we are so very sorry, so very sorry for your loss. I also wanted to say we at the Kings recognize your people’s ability to protest peacefully, and we respect that. We here at the Kings recognize that we have a big platform. It’s a privilege, but it’s also a responsibility. It’s a responsibility that we take very seriously, and we stand here before you old, young, black, white, brown, and we are all united in our commitment. We recognize that it’s not just business as usual; we are gonna work really hard to bring everybody together to make the world a better place starting with our own community, and we’re gonna work really hard to prevent this type of a tragedy from happening again.”
Former Kings center DeMarcus Cousins has reportedly offered to pay for the Clark family’s funeral expenses.
California Sen. Kamala Harris weighed in on the shooting, calling for a “thorough and transparent investigation” and hashtagging her Friday tweet #blacklivesmatter.
Similarly, Sacramento Mayor Darrell Steinberg said the shooting was wrong with the caveat that the investigation is far from complete.
Sacramento Police Chief Daniel Hahn told the Sacramento Bee Thursday he believed Clark was, in fact, the man initially reported to have broken car windows, the call that precipitated the shooting.
“Do I believe he was the one based on what we know now? I believe that, yeah, but can we factually say it yet? No. But when and if we can, we will put that out,” Hahn told the paper.
CBS Sacramento will be updating their reporting on the protests throughout the day Friday. They said the NAACP has asked federal authorities to launch a third party investigation into the shooting.
The two officers involved have been with the Sacramento Police Dept. for two and four years, “but each has four years’ previous experience with other law enforcement agencies,” CBS News reports.
They have been placed on administrative leave pending an investigation.