A trove of newly released police video shows officers, concerned that Stephon Clark was armed and only pretending to be dead after they shot him, waited about five minutes before attempting lifesaving CPR.
Clark, gunned down by police in his Sacramento, California, backyard on March 18, was unarmed, with only a cellphone on him. But officers who shot Clark as they investigated a report of someone breaking car windows were apprehensive about approaching him, according to the newly released Sacramento Police Department material, which includes 23 in-car camera videos, 28 body camera videos, two 911 audio files and helicopter video. The files were released under a city law that requires video evidence from critical incidents be made public within a month.
“He have a gun?” one officer can be heard saying.
“I don’t see it,” another responded. “He hasn’t moved at all.”
They then shouted at Clark.
“We need to know if you’re OK,” a female officer said. “We need to get you medics, but we can’t go over to get you help unless we know you’re, you don’t have your weapon.”
Finally, they handcuffed him and began performing CPR after one of the officers said something in Clark’s hand looked like a gun.
“Shine me a light,” one officer said. “Come on buddy, wake up, breathe for me. Come on bud. Come on bud.”
After about a minute, the officers performing CPR stopped, saying he was unresponsive.
Authorities will now investigate whether police acted quickly enough to begin lifesaving measures, police spokesman Sgt. Vance Chandler told The Sacramento Bee.
“That’s part of our investigation, looking at when aid was rendered,” he said. “We will look at if it was appropriate given the circumstances.”
Experts said the time lapse appeared reasonable, given the need to verify that Clark wasn’t armed.
“They approached him as soon as was safely practical,” police training expert Ed Obayashi told the newspaper. “From what I am seeing and hearing, the officers in my opinion exercised good tactical decision making.”
The new videos add perspective to an initial round of footage released days after the shooting, which showed Clark running from two police officers through his neighborhood. Cops shot him seconds after he stopped in the backyard of the home he shared with his grandparents and two sons.
Both sets of videos show officers muting their body cameras. The police department issued new guidelines earlier this month, following the first video release, allowing officers to mute body cameras only if they’re talking to a doctor, nurse or paramedic, or when working with sexual assault or rape. They’re also required to explain on the recording why they’re muting or deactivating.