California: In what could be a shocking and unfortunate incident, police in Sacramento, California, shot dead an African-American man fearing that he was carrying a weapon, which actually was an iPhone.
Reportedly, body camera and surveillance helicopter footage released late on Wednesday shows how police chased and then fired 20 rounds at Stephon Clark, killing him on the spot.
Following an uproar in the case, the Sacramento Police Department said it “recognises the significance of this incident and the impact it has on our community,” and that it was “committed to providing timely information and communicating openly with our community.”
The incident was triggered by an emergency 911 phone call late on Sunday stating that a man was smashing car windows in the neighbourhood.
Clark, 22, appeared to fit the suspect’s profile, and police chased after him, backed by a helicopter equipped with infrared cameras.
The videos caught by the helicopter and by the officer’s body cameras showed Clark running through the neighbourhood, then entering the backyard of his grandparents’ home, where he lived.
The officers then burst into the backyard with their weapons drawn and confronted Clark, shouting out: “Show me your hands!” followed soon after by “Gun, gun, gun!”
The officers opened fire, with each shot appearing as a flash on the helicopter’s infrared footage.
“At the time of the shooting, the officers believed the suspect was pointing a firearm at them,” Sacramento police said in a statement.
“After an exhaustive search, scene investigators did not locate any firearms. The only items found near the suspect was a cellphone.”
Hearing the gunshots, Clark’s grandparents called 911, without realising that police were shooting.