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California prosecutors ask NFL to take down video about Stephon Clark

Sequette Clark, left, in Sacramento in March 2019
Sequette Clark, left, leaves a meeting with California Atty. Gen. Xavier Becerra in Sacramento in March 2019.
(Associated Press)

California’s prosecutors have asked the NFL to remove a video produced as part of the league’s Inspire Change campaign, saying it misrepresents the circumstances surrounding the 2018 fatal police shooting of Stephon Clark.

The video shows Sequette Clark speaking about the death of her son, a Black man who was killed in the backyard of his grandparents’ home. The shooting led to weeks of protests in Sacramento and across the nation, sometimes disrupting games by the NBA’s Sacramento Kings.

California District Attorneys Assn. President Vern Pierson complained Tuesday that the video omits some of the background and crucial context, including that both the Sacramento County district attorney and California attorney general ultimately determined that two police officers broke no laws during the confrontation with Clark.

“Though well-intentioned, the video performs a disservice instead of a public service by omitting the crucial facts which preceded Mr. Clark’s tragic death,” association president Vern Pierson said in a statement.

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Among other things, the video doesn’t mention that Clark was suspected of vandalism and was running from police, Pierson noted. Clark turned toward them holding what the two officers said they thought was a gun, but it was a cellphone.

NFL officials did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Attorney Brian Panish, who represented Sequette Clark and other family members in a lawsuit against the city, also did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

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“My family will never be the same without Stephon,” Sequette Clark says in the video.

But she applauded a new California law that attempts to deter shootings by police by setting a higher standard for when officers can use lethal force.

“That’s the ultimate goal: to make change,” she says.

The city of Sacramento will pay $2.4 million to the two sons of an unarmed black man who was fatally shot by police last year, according to court documents.

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The association said in a letter Tuesday to NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell that it applauds the league’s Inspire Change initiative, which provides grants to nonprofit organizations and showcases players’ community involvement. The grants focus in part on promoting police and community relations and criminal justice reform, according to the league.

The video, titled “Stephon Clark’s Legacy #EveryonesChild,” poignantly shows his mother’s loss and pride in her son, Pierson wrote on behalf of the district attorneys’ association.

The letter asks Goodell to “reexamine the factual findings of Stephon Clark’s death and produce a video that accurately depicts the conduct of all concerned in an officer involved shooting.”


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