March 30 (UPI) — Sacramento, Calif., police officers shot 22-year-old Stephon Clark, an unarmed man standing in his grandmother’s yard, eight times, six times in the back, a private autopsy released Friday indicates.
Clark’s family hired Dr. Bennet Omalu, a pathologist who was the subject of the film Concussion, to conduct an independent autopsy of Clark, whose death has prompted protests over excessive use of force by police and charges of racism.
Omalu determined the first shot was likely the one that struck Clark in his left side under his arm — he had been facing his grandmother’s house when officers opened fire him.
“The proposition that he was facing the officers is inconsistent with the prevailing forensic evidence,” Omalu said.
Police had been called to the area for reports of a car vandal and found Clark in his grandmother’s backyard. Police said they believed the cellphone Clark was holding was a gun.
The autopsy report determined it’s likely the first shot spun Clark around so he faced away from the officers, who then fired a series of six rounds into his back, one of which hit his spinal cord. The eighth and final shot struck Clark’s left thigh, likely after he had fallen to the ground or as he was falling.
Officers collectively shot a total of 20 bullets toward Clark
“The narrative that had been put forth was that [police] had to open fire because he was charging at them,” attorney Benjamin Crump said during a news conference Friday. “Well obviously based on Dr. Omalu’s findings in the family’s autopsy it suggests all the bullets were from behind.”
Omalu said it took 3 to 10 minutes for Clark to die.
Omalu’s autopsy is separate from an investigation being conducted by the Sacramento County district attorney’s office and the California Department of Justice.
“Further comment by the Sacramento Police Department prior to the release of the Coroner’s report along with the official review by the Sacramento County District Attorney and the California Department of Justice would be inappropriate at this time,” Sacramento police said. “We acknowledge the importance of this case to all in our community and we are committed to a thorough and comprehensive investigation.”