California attorney general to investigate Stephon Clark shooting

CNN/ Newswire | 3/27/2018, 2:04 p.m.
Citing the "extremely high emotions, anger and hurt" in Sacramento following the shooting death of Stephon Clark by police in ...
Photos of Stephon Clark, man shot by Sacramento Police.

By Ray Sanchez, CNN

(CNN) -- Citing the "extremely high emotions, anger and hurt" in Sacramento following the shooting death of Stephon Clark by police in his grandmother's backyard, Police Chief Daniel Hahn said Tuesday that California Attorney General Xavier Becerra will hold an independent investigation into the shooting.

Hahn, surrounded by community leaders at a news conference, called last week's shooting "a tragedy that no one wants to see or experience" and said he requested the oversight of state prosecutors even though he was confident in the impartiality of his detectives.

"Due to the nature of this investigation, extremely high emotions, anger and hurt, I felt it was in the best interest of our entire community to ask the Attorney General to be an independent part of the investigation," Hahn said.

The press conference came a week after Clark, 22, was shot and killed in his grandmother's Sacramento backyard by officers who believed he was pointing a gun at them, according to police.

No weapon was found at the scene. The only item discovered was a cell phone, police said.

Officers fired 20 shots, hitting Clark multiple times, police told CNN affiliate KOVR.

"Our city is at a critical point right now and I believe this will help build faith and confidence in the investigation from our community," Hahn said.

The shooting has led to protests in California's capital. Community and religious leaders stood with local elected officials Tuesday in appealing for calm.

"I understand the community is concerned about the integrity of the investigation but I would remind you we are not some of the other major cities in the country that have had challenges," said Pastor Anthony Sadler, referring to disturbances following police shootings in other cities.

"We are all one here in Sacramento," said Sadler, pastor at Shiloh Baptist Church. We are one of the most diverse cities in the nation... We know that feelings and emotions are high but we need to do this, again, as one city."

Sacramento Mayor Darrell Steinberg said Becerra's investigation would provide the community "extra assurance" of a fair and impartial process.

"We're going to make sure every stone is turned," Becerra said, noting that his involvement came at the request of the police chief.

"That's pretty big. I believe he's showing trust and respect," he said of Hahn.

Becerra said his investigators will also evaluate law enforcement policies, procedures and practices.

"We take on this responsibility in full recognition of the importance of getting it right -- because there is nothing more important than respect and trust between law enforcement and the communities that they are sworn to protect as we work to keep all Californians safe," he said.

Becerra stressed that his office was "not taking over" the investigation but merely "providing independent oversight."

Sacramento County Coroner Kim Gin determined Clark's cause of death was multiple gunshot wounds and classified his death as a homicide.

A spokesperson for the coroner's office said the exact number of rounds that struck Clark is not being released at this time. The full autopsy report will be held until the case is adjudicated in court.