County coroner reveals Stephon Clark autopsy results

Sacramento police officers shot and killed a black man in his grandmother's backyard because they believed he was pointing a gun at them, police said. The fatal shooting of Stephon Clark was recorded by two officers' body cameras and from a police helicopter; that footage was released Wednesday, March 21, 2018. (Stevante Clark)

SACRAMENTO, Ca. — Stephon Clark, an unarmed Sacramento man killed by police in March, was shot seven times, an autopsy released by the Sacramento County coroner says.

The results differ from an autopsy done by a doctor hired by the Clark family. That report said Clark was shot eight times by police on the night of March 18.

The official autopsy says three bullets hit Clark in the back. Another bullet struck Clark in the chest, one struck the back of the right arm, one hit him in the left thigh and another pierced his neck.

Dr. Gregory D. Reiber, who reviewed the autopsy for the county, said Dr. Bennet Omalu, who performed the independent autopsy, mistook one exit wound for an entrance wound.

Reiber also concluded that Clark was first shot in the leg. Six wounds were to Clark’s right side, he wrote. The bullets’ right-to-left paths “do not support the assertion that Clark was shot primarily from behind,” Reiber wrote, referring to Omalu’s comments at a news conference in late March.

Reiber used photos, diagrams made by a pathologist, and police video to perform his review. He did not examine Clark’s body. Video recorded from a helicopter helped him determine which way Clark’s body was facing when he was shot, Reiber wrote.

Omalu told the Sacramento Bee that the county autopsy shows the need for independent review.

“I find it extremely unusual that an outside doctor is reviewing an autopsy report and is coming out to state (I) am wrong,” he told the newspaper. “A doctor cannot say another doctor is wrong. All you can say is I don’t agree with the opinion of that doctor.”

Authorities have said the two Sacramento officers who shot Clark were responding to a report that a man had broken car windows and was hiding in a backyard.

Police pursued a man — later identified as Clark — who hopped a fence into his grandmother’s property.

The officers fired at Clark because they believed he was pointing a gun at them, police have said. But only his cellphone was found at the scene.

Authorities have released video from 28 body cameras, 23 dash cameras, and a Sacramento Sheriff’s Department helicopter. The department also released two 911 calls.

The shooting sparked days of protests in California’s capital city by demonstrators who argued police are biased against people of color.