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Readers React: New video of Stephon Clark’s shooting shows the reality of that terrifying night for the officers

Family photos of Stephon Clark, his wife Salena Manni and their two children.
Family photos of Stephon Clark, his wife Salena Manni and their two children.
(TNS)

To the editor: After several articles in the Los Angeles Times over the last month on the March 15 police shooting of Stephon Clark in Sacramento, the April 16 report, “As Stephon Clark lay motionless, officers thought he might be armed and ‘pretending,’ new footage shows,” finally gave me some perspective.

This newly released footage captured the moments when the officers were checking the neighborhood, spotted a suspect in a backyard, pursued and shot the man, and waited for what seemed like an interminable period (but in reality was only five minutes) while they decided whether to check and see if he might be alive and armed.

The picture and sound were on this entire period. It was dark, dark, dark that night. Few words could describe this. It was the night after a new moon and two weeks before the full moon. The officers held flashlights in one hand to marginally cut into the darkness and, I assume, held their firearms in the other hand.

Frankly, even on tape, it was terrifying sight. Clark never responded to their orders.

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John McGrew, Riverside

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To the editor: According to your article, video released by the Sacramento Police Department shows that the officers who pursued and shot Clark waited almost five minutes to deliver medical aid out of apparent concern that he was armed and playing dead as he lay motionless in his grandparents’ backyard.

This was later described by a Plumas County sheriff’s deputy as “playing possum.”

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I understand why officers are often concerned for their safety in many situations, but Clark was shot at 20 times and never returned fire. If after firing 20 shots (some of which could have hit innocent bystanders) these officers were not sure that they had disabled Clark, then law enforcement in Sacramento needs to review standards for carrying a deadly weapon.

Steve Grimm, Long Beach

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