As the heartbreaking details continue surrounding unarmed 23-year-old Stephon Clark’s death at the hands of local police, the Sacramento Police Chief has come forward to address the questions regarding why officers turned off the audio on their body cameras during the shooting.
In a recent interview with NBC News, Sacramento Police Chief Daniel Hahn stated that he “doesn’t know why” officers cut the audio to the body cameras they were wearing during the fateful night they shot and killed Stephon Clark in his backyard after incorrectly assuming he was armed.
Via NBC News:
Police Chief Daniel Hahn said last week that he could not explain [why officers muted their body cam audio]. He said there were “various reasons” why officers would turn off their cameras’ audio, but he would not say if the Clark shooting was one of them. The muting, he said, would be part of his agency’s investigation of the shooting.
The unanswered questions about the muted cams have stoked suspicion among Clark’s family and protesters, who have criticized the shooting as an illegal use of force. “When I heard [about the muted cameras] I felt it was intentional,” Sonia Lewis, a cousin of Clark’s, said last week. “You’re muting something you don’t want the public to hear what you’re saying, and that means that if you don’t want the truth to come out then all of it is a lie.”
The family’s attorney, Benjamin Crump, plans to file a wrongful-death lawsuit, he told the Daily Beast. Crump said in a statement to NBC News that “we’re exploring every legal remedy possible to get justice for Stephon Clark.” He also said that Clark’s family “feels that the muting of the mics suggests they were up to something nefarious; to them it suggests they were conspiring to be deceitful.” Betty Williams, president of the Sacramento branch of the NAACP, said at a Monday news conference that she had demanded that the police department share its protocol for muting body cams, and consider changes.
Police Chief Hahn wasn’t the only local official to address the heavy criticism and controversy surrounding the events that led to Clark’s death. While Sgt. Vance Chandler didn’t say why officers cut their audio feed, he stated that they are taught to utilize the mute feature in specific situations.
He continued with, “That’s part of what we are looking at in this incident,” he said. “We want to determine if this was an appropriate time for them to mute it or not.”
They all know exactly why the audio was muted, as do we—they just refuse to say it publicly. RIP Stephon Clark.
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