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New Stephon Clark videos raise questions about time taken to render medical aid

Anita Chabria, Emily Zenter, Ryan Lillis, Nashelly Chavez, Ellen Garrison and Molly Sullivan, The Sacramento Bee on

Published in News & Features

SACRAMENTO, Calif. -- Sacramento police Monday released 52 videos and one audio file of the Stephon Clark shooting, showing multiple instances of officers muting their body-worn microphones and raising questions about the length of time it took law enforcement to render medical aid.

Clark, 22, was shot by two Sacramento police officers March 18 in the backyard of his grandparents' south Sacramento house. He was unarmed and holding a cellphone, which officers apparently mistook for a gun. The shooting set off weeks of protests and calls for police reforms in Sacramento to address what many see as bias in the policing of African-American and ethnic communities.

Video released Monday confirms officers waited about five minutes from the time Clark was shot before they approached his body. They then spent about one minute handcuffing and searching him before beginning to administer CPR.

By the time fire department rescue workers were cleared by police to enter the scene -- about a minute after CPR began -- it appears that Clark already was dead. A fire department medic can be heard in another video of the same time frame saying, "We're fixed and dilated here," an apparent reference to Clark being nonresponsive.

Another person then asks: "Nonreactive?" A medic replies, "Yes," and asks if anyone has a watch. He then calls the time as "21:42," an apparent reference to Clark's official time of death.

A forensic pathologist, Bennet Omalu, hired by the family last month to do an independent autopsy, estimated Clark likely survived between three and 10 minutes after being shot eight times by officers in the neck, torso and leg.

"The five minutes lapse in time, I'm not sure if it would have saved the life of Stephon Clark, but it would have increased the chances," said Rashid Sidqe, a police reform activist with the Law Enforcement Accountability Directive. "We are looking for a response from the chief whether or not (officers) followed proper protocol, and if they did, how can we make the necessary changes so this doesn't happen to another member of our community."

Police spokesman Sgt. Vance Chandler said the department would examine whether officers acted quickly enough with medical care. In the videos, police can be heard discussing if it's safe to approach Clark in the minutes before they administer aid.

"That's part of our investigation, looking at when aid was rendered," Chandler said. "We will look at if it was appropriate given the circumstances."

Plumas County deputy and police training expert Ed Obayashi said he believed the time taken before approaching Clark was reasonable under the circumstances. He said the possibility of other civilians in the area combined with officers' inability to see both of Clark's hands were risk factors.

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