Black Lives Matter protesters crash wedding of cop who shot Stephon Clark
SACRAMENTO — One of the two officers who shot and killed Stephon Clark in March was confronted by Black Lives Matter protesters on his wedding day Saturday, reports CBS Sacramento. Police haven't released the names of the two officers who opened fire on Clark in his grandmother's backyard, due to safety concerns.
The small group of protesters had gotten word about the wedding and made sure they were there just hours before the officer was to say, "I do."
"I think they need to be approached in spaces where they're a little more vulnerable," Sacramento BLM founder Tanya Faison told the station.
According to the video released by Black Lives Matter, the officer was gathered in a room with his groomsmen Saturday when protesters barged in.
"I just wonder if you started planning your wedding before you killed Stephon Clark or after? How have you been sleeping since March 18?" said one protester in the video.
BLM says its members helped plan the confrontation ever since they found the officer's wedding website online, with information about the venue, a vineyard about an hour outside of Sacramento.
"We're not violent, we're not gonna give to them what they brought to our community, we're not gonna hurt anyone, but we are gonna make them uncomfortable, and they should -- because someone is dead," said Faison.
But community member Michel Keeley told CBS Sacramento, "As a black man … I'm concerned whenever there's injustice on any black person. Certainly there's a right to protest, but I think there are limits when to protest in a public place and the right of privacy for your wedding."
Sacramento police say since the tragic shooting back in March, the two officers involved have needed additional security. They've received a number of death threats and are not working in a patrol capacity.
"People may think that these officers are just going about their lives, but this is a very traumatic event for everyone," said Sgt. Vance Chandler with Sacramento Police.
A day after the March 18 shooting, police distributed a press release that said the officers who shot Clark "saw the suspect facing them, advance forward with his arms extended, and holding an object in his hands."
Police video of the shooting doesn't clearly capture all that happened after Clark ran into the backyard. He initially moved toward the officers, who are peeking out from behind a corner of the house, but it's not clear he's facing them or that he knows they are there when they open fire after shouting "gun, gun, gun."
After 20 shots, officers call to him, apparently believing he might still be alive and armed. They eventually approach and find no gun, just a cellphone.
"I feel that our department has handled demonstrations and protests very well and we have taken great effort's to allow people to exercise their First Amendment rights but on this one what is the purpose of this?" he said.
That purpose, said Faison, is to remind folks that people are still hurting.
"Stephon Clark's family is still mourning and suffering. He doesn't get to be with his kids, or get married," she said.
Sacramento Police Officers Association President Timothy Davis responded to the wedding protest Monday night.
"The SPOA supports transparency within our Police Department. Transparency brings trust," he said. "Trust between our officers and the citizens they protect is an important aspect of a safe community. Our police officers are members of this community. They raise their families here. The send their children to schools here. They live their lives as a part of this community.
"Transparency comes with responsibility. Officers deserve to be free from harassment by individuals seeking their own forms of justice. True accountability can only come from our impartial judicial system and from our elected government.
"The SPOA will continue to advocate for transparency and thoughtful improvements in police policies, but we request the respect of our community. Give our officers the ability to safely raise their families alongside you."