Stephon Clark's Mother Reacts To Sacramento DA's No Criminal Charges Decision
MICHEL MARTIN, HOST:
We're going to begin the program today with news out of Sacramento. The district attorney there, Anne Marie Schubert, announced yesterday that two officers who fatally shot an unarmed Stephon Clark in his grandmother's backyard last March will not face criminal charges. There were some community protests, and others took to Twitter to express their disappointment. California Governor Gavin Newsom called for, quote, unquote, "systemic reforms" to the criminal justice system.
Se'Quette Clark is Stephon Clark's mother. I spoke with her earlier today, and I began our conversation by asking how she responded to the district attorney's decision to release her son's text messages and internet search history, evidently to demonstrate that he was showing suicidal tendencies at the time of the shooting.
SE'QUETTE CLARK: She used that as a smear campaign or a fake way to justify and condone. Her officers weren't doing - she never once addressed their actions. She presented and painted a picture of my son that was her opinion.
MARTIN: You mentioned that you had hoped that your son would be the first that they would do right by, and...
CLARK: Yeah, that the government, the state, that the police, law enforcement agencies would charge officers the same way that they would charge civilians - or, even more specific, black or brown civilians in this - in the same case with the exact same facts. If my son was the one who shot the officer, would he be - would his actions be considered lawful and justified?
MARTIN: What do you think should happen now?
CLARK: I think that what would be most fair and just would be for the attorney general to come to the decision to prosecute the officers. I think what would be right would be for the DA to be ousted. I think that it would be only right for her to not be in that position because she has shown that - time and time again that she is not going to be just. She is not going to be fair. She is going to justify every single homicide that her officers do. So...
MARTIN: I understand that there's a bill in the legislature that would change the standards for when deadly force can be used. Do you think that's a good idea?
CLARK: I'm not really a political person. My son and other family members are. So I think that it sounds good. But if that's the case, why wouldn't - why wasn't it already in place? Or why hasn't that already been the law? Why after hundreds of years does the law have to be amended to not use deadly force on a black kid? I think that it's more racial than political, but that's a whole nother (ph) story, you know? So I don't really do politics and racism. It sounds good, and I think that it would be - in a perfect world, it would be good. But this is an imperfect world.
MARTIN: This is a very difficult time for you, and I am appreciative that you're willing to speak to us at a time like this. Can you just - for those who've not gone through this, if you could just help them see what it's like for you now - like, how do you go forward after this?
CLARK: It's funny that you ask me that (laughter). So here's the thing. Every day, when I wake up, my son was murdered yesterday. Every day, when I wake up, I'm running to a yellow tape from a half a block - for over a half a block from my mother's house, being told across the tape that my son is not alive. I'm being told that my parents are locked in the house and cannot come out. No one can come in. I'm being told that my daughter, my 8-year-old daughter, and my mother witnessed my son being murdered and actually went out and seen him dying on the ground. Every day, when I wake up, that's what I wake up with - every single day.
So how do I go on? I don't know. I have zero clue. It's so hard for me to be here. It's so hard for me to emotionally not be detached. It's so hard for me not to be numb. It's so hard for me not to be angry and bitter. It's so hard for me not to be hateful. It's so hard for me not to be sad and depressed. It's so hard for me to breathe every single day.
MARTIN: Yes, ma'am. Well, thank you. I understand this is hard, and I do appreciate your trying. And, you know, we will - we'll stay in touch, if that's OK.
CLARK: (Laughter) I'll be fine.
MARTIN: All right. That's Se'Quette Clark. She's Stephon Clark's mother. She was with us from Sacramento.
Ms. Clark, we thank you so much for speaking to us.
CLARK: Well, you're welcome. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.