iStock/Thinkstock(SACRAMENTO, Calif.) — The civil rights attorney Benjamin Crump, who represented Trayvon Martin’s family, said at a press conference Monday he would be representing the family of Stephon Clark, the 22-year-old who was shot at 20 times by police while clutching only a cellphone.
Crump made the announcement before a throng of reporters at Sacramento City Hall, where he compared the outcomes seen by suspects in the Austin bombing and Parkland shooting with that of Clark. The attorney was flanked by Sequita Thompson, Clark’s grandmother.
Crump discussed the parallels among the deaths of Clark, Martin, Michael Brown, Terrance Crutcher and Eric Garner, as well as the recent events in Texas and in Florida. Martin, 17 at the time, was shot six years ago in Florida by George Zimmerman, a neighborhood watch volunteer.
“People who are committing mass shootings in Florida were not shot once, but a young man holding a cell phone was shot 20 times,” said Crump, who was cheered by many attending the press conference. “A young man who was bombing homes in Austin, Texas, the police followed him for hours and he wasn’t shot once.
“But an unarmed man holding a cell phone is shot 20 times.”
The attorney also invoked the words of Martin Luther King, whose assassination was 50 years ago, saying: “It is no longer a choice between violence and nonviolence in this world; it’s nonviolence or nonexistence.”
Clark, nicknamed “Zo,” “chose nonviolence,” said Crump, vowing that he will not let Clark be nonexistent in death.
Thompson, Clark’s grandmother, poured her heart out, asking why Sacramento officers fired 20 bullets at her grandson as he stood in her backyard on March 18.
“Why didn’t you just shoot him in the arm?” she asked, weeping. “Shoot him in the leg? Why did you have to do that?”
According to Sacramento Police Department bodycam footage, Clark was unarmed. He had been holding an iPhone.
Thompson was home at the time of the shooting and hear the gunshots from her dining room.
“All I heard was boom, boom, boom,” she said, as she crawled to reach her 7-year-old granddaughter’s bedroom to call 911. “They never should have killed him like that.”
Clark’s older brother, Stevante Clark, spoke to ABC News days after his brother was killed, and he described his grandmother’s reaction.
“She yelled at them and called them murderers,” he said.
Stevante Clark said he didn’t know why police officers were pursuing his brother in the first place.
“The cops didn’t provide us with any information about the alleged break-ins,” he said.
It had been initially reported that cops received a 911 phone call from a neighbor. In fact, according to a later-released 911 call, a male neighbor had described a man wearing a hoodie attempting to break a window of his truck before running off.
Officers and a chopper hovering above headed toward the 7500 block of 29th Street and spotted Clark in his grandmother’s backyard.
Stephon Clark, according to Stevante Clark, regularly entered the home through the backyard because the front doorbell was broken.
According to the released bodycam footage, when officers encountered Clark they believed he was holding a “toolbar.” The officers said Clark motioned toward them, as one can be heard yelling, “Show me your hands … gun, gun, gun!”
The officers then combined to fire 20 shots.
Sgt. Vance Chandler, a police spokesman, told ABC News that the department was still reviewing Monday’s events involving Crump and Stephon Clark’s family before responding publicly.
The Sacramento Police Department so far has refused to release to ABC News the names of the two officers who allegedly shot Stephon Clark.
The officers were placed on administrative leave and reportedly have each received death threats.
“At this point,” Chandler said, “we are evaluating that on a day-by-day basis because of the threats the officers have received.”
In terms of the family’s filing a potential wrongful-death lawsuit, the spokesman said that he hasn’t “received any information on that” and that the department “is committed to being transparent with this incident.”
The press conference on Monday was interrupted by chants of Stephon Clark’s name, as one of his two brothers repeatedly kissed the cheek of Alice Huffman of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People.
“We need gun control in our community,” Huffman said, “but we also need gun control for police in this nation.”
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