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Officers in Stephon Clark's death cleared by California attorney general review

Federal authorities said they will now "examine whether the shooting involved violations of Mr. Clark’s federal civil rights."

Two officers involved in the fatal shooting of Stephon Clark in Sacramento, California, last year have been cleared by an independent review from the California Department of Justice just days after prosecutors announced they would not be filing charges against them.

"Based on our review of the facts and evidence in relation to the law, I am here to announce today that our investigation has concluded that no criminal charges against the officers involved in the shooting can be sustained," California Attorney General Xavier Becerra said Tuesday.

Clark, 22, was shot in his grandmother’s backyard March 18, 2018, after the two officers said they believed he had a gun -- but only a cellphone was found. Officers were responding to a report of someone breaking car windows on 29th Street at around 9 p.m. that night.

IMAGE: Stephon Clark
Stephon ClarkCourtesy Sonia Lewis

Becerra said Clark "committed several unlawful acts" and walked toward the officers until he was about 16 feet in front of them.

The independent review from the attorney general's office is in line with an investigation conducted by Sacramento County District Attorney Anne Marie Schubert, who announced Saturday that the two officers would not be charged with Clark's death.

Body cameras and other evidence showed that one of the officers shouted at Clark to show his hands, that they took cover during the incident, and that they saw a flash of light that one officer believed was the muzzle flash of a gun and the other thought was light reflecting off a gun, according to authorities.

After Clark went down, officers stopped shooting, asked whether either of them was injured, and waited for backup before approaching Clark because they believed their lives still might be in danger, Becerra said.

The attorney general's report will be "open and transparent for you to read," he said.

The U.S. Attorney's Office for the Eastern District of California released a joint statement with the FBI on Tuesday saying both agencies "will examine whether the shooting involved violations of Mr. Clark’s federal civil rights," now that both local and state authorities have completed their investigation.

Clark's family, including his two sons, his parents and his grandparents, filed a wrongful death lawsuit in January seeking more than $20 million from the city and the officers, Terrance Mercadal and Jared Robinet, alleging that the officers used excessive force and that Clark was a victim of racial profiling.

At least 80 people were arrested during protests Monday night after the district attorney declined to file charges.

The American Civil Liberties Union said in a statement Saturday that the decision not to file criminal charges "opens a new wound for the Sacramento community and serves as a potent reminder that California’s law on the use of deadly force needs immediate reform."