Was the Stephon Clark Shooting Justified or Unjustified?

A young man named Stephon Clark was shot by Sacramento police on Sunday, in his backyard.  Police stated they thought he was holding a gun, but it was determined after the shooting that he was unarmed, holding only a cellphone.

The LA Times reported "hundreds of protesters took to the streets Thursday, blocking freeway access to a Sacramento Kings game. At City Hall, members of Black Lives Matter and other activists condemned the incident as yet another case of officers shooting an unarmed black person."

Police released raw footage of the body camera and footage from the police helicopter that was circling, which I wanted to review before making up my mind on this issue.  After viewing the footage, I reached my own conclusion -- there is no evidence that the shooting was unjustified.

Clark was reported to police for smashing someone's car windows and then being in someone's backyard. Police arrived on the scene at 9:13pm and at 9:25pm, "the sheriff's helicopter spotted a man in a backyard and told police that the suspect had picked up a 'toolbar' and broken a window to a home," reported the LA Times. He climbed a fence, went into another yard, climbed another fence and looked into a vehicle, before running into his own backyard.

Now, the police officers told him multiple times to not flee and to show his hands. Clark ignored all orders from police. Moments before the shooting, he emerged from around a corner with an object in his hands. At this point, an officer shouted "gun, gun, gun," which initiated the shooting.

What people need to understand is under such conditions, officers have a split second decision to make about protecting their lives or taking out a threat. Based the footage, there is nothing to suggest that the officers involved could have made a reasonable determination that Clark did not in fact have a gun. They saw someone who was caught committing a crime, fled, disobeyed orders, hid and then emerged with his arms out and something pointed at them. Yes, this something turned out to be a cell phone, but in plenty of other cases it was in fact a gun. If you're the shoes of the police officers and also have a family to get home to, would you really roll the dice?

Protests in the name of "another unarmed black man shot by the police" are unfounded, because this was a justified police shooting. Clark could have made dozens of different decisions, which would have resulted in a different outcome. That's probably the most tragic part of all -- this could have been avoided and his own actions are the reason he's no longer here.

Additional calls for officers to have to "explain all 20 shots" fired are unwarranted, because police officers (and anyone who has been through firearms training) are taught that if you have to use your firearm, you shoot until the threat is eliminated -- period. There are no warning shots. There is no shoot them in the leg and figure it out later. In self-defense use of a firearm, you are shooting with the intent to end someone's life. Because, if you actually have to use a firearm, you're doing it because there is a credible threat to your life or someone else's.

Additionally, a number of questions are easily raised with this shooting (I feel like we've been down this road before):

Why would Black Lives Matter protest at a basketball game, blocking traffic? All you're doing is inconveniencing people who paid money for tickets and people who had nothing to do with the shooting. Go protest at the police department.

And why ignore the hundreds of deaths that actually were unjustified, but committed by others -- some black, within our own community?

I wrote in a separate article about a 2017 study that shows that at least 75% of all police shootings of black people are actually justified. When that's the case, we have a number of things to address within our community.

The entire Black Lives Matter movement is a joke, because time and time again, they show that they don't really care about black lives at all -- just making headlines.

Take a look at the footage of the Clark shooting below and make up your own mind.