Officers who killed Stephon Clark receive permission to return to duty

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SACRAMENTO, CA – MARCH 26: Sequita Thompson, (C) grandmother of Stephon Clark who was shot and killed by Sacramento police, cries during a news conference with civil rights attorney Ben Crump on March 26, 2018 in Sacramento, California. The family of Stephon Clark, an unarmed black man who was shot and killed by Sacramento police officers, have hired civil rights attorney Ben Crump to represent the Clark family in a wrongful death suit against the Sacramento police department. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

In a disappointing but not surprising turn of events, the two Sacramento officers who fatally shot Stephon Clark will not face federal charges and are now free to return to duty.

In a statement released Thursday, the Sacramento Police Department outlined how it had conducted what it believed to be a thorough investigation of the officer-involved shooting of an unarmed Black man that took place on March 18, 2018, and concluded that the use of deadly force in the case was lawful.

Back in March, after a nearly year-long investigation, the California attorney general’s office also declined to issue state criminal charges. At the time, Attorney General Xavier Becerra said there was significant evidence to corroborate that the officers had reason to believe their lives were in danger when Clark began advancing toward them holding what they thought to be a gun. But despite this belief, investigators only found a cellphone.

“Although no policy violations occurred in this incident or in the events leading up to it, we are committed to implementing strategies that may prevent similar tragedies in the future,” Sacramento Police Chief Daniel Hahn said in a statement. “Our internal investigation concluded that there were no violations of department policy or training. The officers involved in this case will return to full, active duty.”

That same day of this announced, the FBI also came to a similar decision, saying it didn’t find enough evidence to pursue federal criminal civil rights charges against the officers.

In January, Clark’s family – specifically his parents, grandparents and children – filed a federal civil rights lawsuit against the city of Sacramento, seeking damages in excess of $20 million.

The suit also names Terrence Mercadal and Jared Robinet, the two officers who gunned Clark down in his grandparents’ backyard back.

“Both Officers Terrence Mercadal and Jared Robinet did not give [Clark] a verbal warning that deadly force would be used prior to shooting [Clark] multiple times, despite it being feasible to do so and they did not issue appropriate commands to [Clark)],” reads the 31-page suit filed by attorneys Dale GalipoBrian Panish and Ben Crump.

Thursday, Clark’s brother, Stevante Clark, posted on Facebook that he was in a meeting with federal and local authorities, stating, “These people have failed when it comes to (accountability).”