A former professional basketball player led a rally in Sacramento, California, Saturday, calling for police accountability in the wake of the March 18 police killing of Stephon Clark, an unarmed black man.
Saturday’s gathering followed a mostly peaceful march Friday by hundreds of demonstrators, hours after an independent autopsy found that Clark, who was 22, was hit in the back by six of the eight bullets that struck him, contradicting police testimony.
Security was high for Saturday’s demonstration, led by former Sacramento Kings player Matt Barnes, and a Kings basketball game scheduled for Saturday evening at the local arena, Golden 1 Center.
Local media reported the plaza outside the arena was closed to the public Saturday afternoon and protest signs were not allowed at the game, which pitted the Kings against Oakland’s Golden State Warriors.
Earlier Saturday, dozens of people, including Clark’s fiancee, gathered to protest in a downtown Sacramento park.
Saturday was also Cesar Chavez Day, when some states, including California, commemorated the Latino activist who founded a national farm workers union. Organizers of Sacramento’s Chavez march made Clark a focus of their event.
On Friday, forensic researcher Dr. Bennet Omalu, known for his study of football-related concussions, announced the result of his independent examination, which the Clark family had requested.
Omalu said Clark was hit by eight bullets, six of them in the back, one in the neck and one in the thigh. The one bullet that seemed to have come from the front was found in Clark’s left thigh, Omalu said, and likely entered Clark’s body after he was already lying on the ground.
Clark was shot dead by two officers responding to a nighttime phone call about a man breaking car windows and a glass door. The officers fired on Clark, police authorities said, because they thought he had a gun. But no gun was found on Clark’s body. A cellphone was found nearby.
The result of the independent autopsy was announced a day after about 500 people gathered for his funeral. An official report by the county coroner is not expected for several more weeks.
California Governor Jerry Brown said Clark’s death was tragic and that it “raises a number of very serious questions.” He said he supports the state attorney general’s independent oversight to the investigation.
Clark’s death March 18 has sparked days of protest in the California capital and rejuvenated the controversy over police shootings of unarmed black men.