NFL's Stephon Clark video omits 'crucial facts' in police-involved shooting case, prosecutors say
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An NFL video highlighting the police-involved death of Stephon Clark in 2018 “performs a disservice instead of a public service,” California prosecutors said Tuesday.
The video, released last week through the league’s Inspire Change campaign, showed Sequette Clark speaking about the death of her son, Stephon, in the backyard of his grandparents’ home in Northern California. The shooting led to weeks of protests in Sacramento and disrupted Sacramento Kings games.
“Though well-intentioned, the video performs a disservice instead of a public service by omitting the crucial facts which preceded Mr. Clark’s tragic death,” California District Attorneys Association president Vern Pierson said in a statement.
Pierson said the video failed to mention that Stephon Clark was a vandalism suspect and was running from police. Law enforcement officials have said Clark turned toward them holding what officers at the time thought was a gun but later turned out to be a cellphone.
In the video, Sequette Clark acknowledges that her family “will never be the same without Stephon.” However, she applauded the new California law that attempts to deter police shootings by setting a higher standard for when officers can use lethal force.
“That’s the ultimate goal, to make change,” she says.
The California District Attorneys Association said in a letter to NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell that it applauds the league’s campaign, which provides grants to nonprofit organizations and showcases players’ community involvement. Pierson wrote the video poignantly shows a mother’s loss and pride in her son.
He said the video, however, omits background and crucial context, including that officials in Sacramento and the state attorney general determined that the officers broke no laws during the confrontation. The letter asks Goodell to “reexamine the factual findings of Stephon Clark’s death and produce a video that accurately depicts the conduct of all concerned in an officer involved shooting.”
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The NFL and an attorney for the Clark family have not responded to the letter.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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