The person who can decide if Stephon Clark’s killers are brought to justice is up for re-election this year, further complicating the police shooting of an unarmed Black man as the city and nation wait to see if any criminal charges will be brought. Sacramento County District Attorney Anne Marie Schubert, who is White, has a questionable past when it comes to prosecuting police who kill Black men, but the political nature of her job could compel her to change course in an effort to save her job.
Color of Change, which describes itself as the nation’s largest online racial justice organization, alluded to that clear conflict of Schubert’s interest possibly playing a significant role in the tragic ordeal.
“A joint investigation between the SacPD and District Attorney Anne Marie Shubert is ongoing but we know that District Attorney Shubert has a pattern of declining to prosecute killer cops who murder Black people,” an online petition to “demand justice for Stephon Clark” that was started by Color of Change said. “The cops who murdered Dazion Flenaugh and Joseph Mann are free today.”
Flenaugh, who was mentally ill as well as homeless, had a knife in his hand when three Sacramento officers shot him dead in 2016. Not only did Shubert deem the shooting lawful, all three officers would go on to be honored one year later “for their courage and heroic actions taken to protect the community in this dangerous situation.”
Mann, who suffered from mentally illness, too, was killed after Sacramento officers tried to run him over, also in 2016. Dash cam footage shows an officer saying “F—k this guy” while driving and aiming the squad car at Mann, who went on to be shot 14 times by the same officer. Those officers also avoided any prosecution.
Schubert presided over both of those cases that involved police killing Black men.
This time around, however, she could make a different decision, if for no other reason than because it is an election year. But with a population that is just 10 percent Black and nearly 60 percent White, it is reasonable to think that Schubert may not need to buckle under political pressure to keep her job since her constituents overwhelmingly look like her.
The primary election is set for June, by which point Schubert will probably be hoping Clark’s case has been forgotten. But with the March For Our Lives emphasizing the power of the ballot, especially when it comes to elected officials who have failed their constituents, chances are this atrocity will still be fresh on voters’ minds.