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Police muted their body cameras just minutes after they fatally shot an unarmed Black man in his own yard, Vice News reported based on body camera footage released on Wednesday.
The Sacramento Police Department released the footage two days after two officers shot and killed 22-year-old Stephon Clark, according to the Sacramento Bee. Police said they thought he was pointing a firearm at them, or a crowbar, but the department later confirmed that Clark only had a cell phone.
Warning: This video shows violent imagery.
The body camera footage shows that officers initially thought Clark was armed and shot him only seconds after pursuing him into his grandparents’ yard. Clark lived there, and his cousin says family members would knock on bedroom windows after dark to get someone’s attention in the house, Mic reported.
The Sacramento Police Department reportedly confirmed officers fired 20 times at Clark. The footage reveals officers muting their body cameras shortly after.
“There are a variety of reasons why officers have the opportunity to mute their body-worn cameras,” Sacramento police spokesman Sgt. Vance Chandler said.
Clark’s death has drawn the attention of Black Lives Matter supporters and activists nationally who blame police misconduct.
First the @SacPolice said they shot and killed 22 year old #StephonClark and denied him any first aid because he had a gun.— Shaun King (@ShaunKing) March 20, 2018
Then they said he didn't actually have a gun, but a crowbar.
Now they admit it wasn't a gun or a crowbar, but HIS CELLPHONE.
IN HIS OWN BACKYARD. pic.twitter.com/rQfwK1HCbp
#StephonClark was shot twenty times and killed by the Sacramento Police on Sunday in his grandparent’s backyard.— Brittany Packnett (@MsPackyetti) March 21, 2018
What was he armed with?
A cell phone.
You can’t possibly be more tired of hearing this story than we are of telling it. https://t.co/Kt5ZRRrQdt pic.twitter.com/rpyNyUqNID
The officers involved in the shooting, who have not yet been identified, have been placed on administrative leave.
Kris Seavers is the IRL editor for the Daily Dot. Her work has appeared in Central Texas publications, including Austin Monthly and San Antonio Magazine, and on NPR.