City of Sacramento Mayor Darrell Steinberg briefed news media at 2p.m. on March 22 about the officer-involved shooting of Sunday, March 18. The following are the Mayor’s remarks as prepared.
The City is committed to providing timely information and communicating openly with our community.
“I have the honor and responsibility together with my colleagues on the city council to represent and give voice, the best I can, to the entire Sacramento community.
I said last evening that I anguish for my city – the loss of a young man, Stephon Clark, father of two, in such tragic circumstances. This tragedy warrants not only our sorrow, but a deep examination of what occurred and what policies and procedures must be examined and changed to minimize the chance of this happening again.
It is important to begin with some perspective on how far we have come as a city over the last year. The Mayor and Council have a clear transparency policy reflected both in our law and in spirit.
A little over a year ago, during the Joseph Mann shooting, it was city policy not to release video while the investigation was pending. Today, under the leadership of Chief Hahn, our City Manager and City Council, multiple videos were released within three days.
The city is also notably on the forefront of requiring all patrol officers to wear body cameras. This was not the case a year ago.
Our video release policy, while absolutely necessary and I believe commendable, raises even higher expectations. Once the public and leadership sees its raw footage, the public rightfully wants to know:
- What is your opinion?
- What did you see when you watched it?
- Did the officers act correctly?
- Did Mr. Clark threaten the officers?
- Were there other, non-lethal ways to resolve this with a different ending?
The public rightfully expects more than – let’s wait for a discussion or comment until the investigation is complete.
It is vital that we give voice to the pain in our community, especially the African-American community. There is far too much history, too much pain, not to say loud and clear, the death of one more young man of color is one more too many.
Change begins with truth – it is a different experience for a young African American man to walk down the street on a Saturday night with his friends.
It is a far different experience for an African-American mother or father to watch their son leave the house for a job and for a time wonder, God, will I ever see him again.
It’s also true that for police officers, they put their lives on the line every single day. Their loved ones ask themselves the same question every day when he or she leaves home for the beat; will I see my loved one again?
As your Mayor, my job is to comfort, hopefully inspire, and act fairly, to ensure that transparency goes well beyond the laudable immediate release of video evidence to the public.
It is not fair in my opinion to render a judgement until more facts are known that explain what we saw in the video. And we don’t want to do anything that jeopardizes a complete investigation.
And yes, accountability is required to maintain trust but only if and when the investigation is thorough and fair.
That will be the case here in Sacramento. Maintaining the trust of both the community and the men and women who work in the police department demand it.
The investigation must take its course without interference, political or otherwise.
Here is our responsible role – it is our job, it is my job, to not only give voice to the community but to ask questions, hard questions, about our policies, our training and our protocols that people throughout Sacramento and the country are now asking.
Our job is to ensure a clear, timely, and public response.
Our job is to work in cooperation with our police department and community, and to be open to and insist upon changing those policies and protocols that are identified as outdated or misguided.
Here are some of the policy, training, and protocol questions being asked in our community and by my colleagues:
- What are the protocols for pursuing a fleeing suspect?
- What training is there around de-escalation in general? And specifically in a pursuit situation?
- How intensive is the training?
- What are the protocols for starting a confrontation with non-lethal force?
- What is the protocol for how many rounds should be fired when an officer discharges their weapon? Is there a standard procedure or does it change depending upon the specific circumstances?
- What is the protocol or policy around rendering emergency aid to a suspect in an officer involved shooting when the suspect is thought to have a gun?
- Should life saving measures be applied with more urgency if the suspect is non-responsive to verbal commands and/or not showing any signs of movement?
- In a pursuit situation, what is the protocol for identifying oneself as a police officer?
- What is the protocol or policy for muting an officer’s body worn camera?
- What is the protocol or policy for muting an officer’s body worn camera after an officer involved shooting?
- How are all these policies and protocols determined? Is it through state policy, federal policy, or is it Department policy, POST training, or department training?
I am calling for these questions to be addressed by our city team and brought back to council for a public discussion on April 10th.
Emotions are understandably high. People are anguished, angry and upset. I urge our community to remain peaceful, to respect one another, to try and be extra kind to each other.