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California prosecutors have requested that the NFL remove and reconsider its new video about Stephon Clark.
Clark, an unarmed 22-year-old Black man who was killed by police in 2018, was featured in the league's Inspire Change initiative. The 1:34 second video is narrated by Clark's mother, SeQuette.
"What the world lost was a living example of someone doing the right thing in their day-to-day life," his mother says in the video.
It features screenshots of news headlines, an audio clip from a news broadcast about Clark's killing, and his mother talking about some of the changes instituted following his death, including a 2019 California law known as "Stephon Clark's Law."
But in the letter, El Dorado County District Attorney Vern Pierson asked the NFL to "reexamine the factual findings of Stephon Clark's death and produce a video that accurately depicts the conduct of all concerned in an officer involved shooting."
The California District Attorneys Association this week sent a letter to Roger Goodell, the commissioner of the National Football League, requesting it to remove a video it posted about the 2018 police killing of Stephon Clark.
CDAA President Vern Pierson claims the video, posted as part of a social justice campaign, "misrepresents the facts" about the killing.
"The video clearly and poignantly shows the devastating impact Mr. Clark's death had on his mother," Pierson wrote in the Tuesday letter. "The pride she has for her son and the loss she is suffering is profound and moving.
"However, the video misrepresents the facts of this tragic incident," he added.
Clark, a 22-year-old Black man, was shot eight times and killed by two officers of the Sacramento Police Department on March 18, 2018, while he was in the backyard of his grandmother's house. The officers said they believed Clark pointed a gun at them, though they later found no weapon — only a cell phone — on his body.
An independent autopsy found that Sacramento police shot 22-year-old Stephon Clark in the back and side, as Insider reported at the time, which appeared to contradict police statements that they shot Clark while he was facing them.
A spokesperson for the NFL did not immediately return Insider's request for comment.
The video was posted as part of the league's Inspire Change social justice initiative
"Inspire Change dedicates financial resources from the League, clubs and players to nonprofit organizations; amplifies inspiring stories of players making differences in their communities and society; and deploys public policy and government affairs resources at the local, state, and national levels," according to the NFL website.
The 1:34 public service announcement posted on July 28 is narrated by Clark's mother, SeQuette, who called him an "overachiever" and a "textbook middle child" in the video.
"What the world lost was a living example of someone doing the right thing in their day-to-day life," Clark said, mentioning reforms that took place in response to Clark's killing. In August 2019, California Gov. Gavin Newsom signed "Stephon Clark's Law," which altered the circumstances for when law enforcement is permitted to use lethal force.
"The fact that the dialogue of what needs to be done differently is here now is hope now," his mother said in the July NFL video.
She briefly detailed some of the circumstances of his death, noting that he was dropped off by friends and had been crossing the street when a neighbor began chasing him, believing he broke into his car.
"He's scared," she said. "He made it home. He's thinking safe. But he wasn't."
California prosecutors argued the video ignored several facts from Clark's case
"Helicopter footage and other physical evidence established that Mr. Clark committed several crimes including car burglary, vandalism, and an attempted residential burglary," Pierson, who also serves as the El Dorado County District Attorney, wrote in the letter. "Mr. Clark was running from officers when he entered the backyard of his grandmother and took a shooting stance and advanced on officers who believed he had a gun."
Video footage and audio recordings from a helicopter and body cameras worn by police officers found that officers had pursued Clark after they were alerted to a man breaking car windows in the neighborhood, as Insider previously reported.
"These findings were supported by the helicopter video and body worn cameras. Officers were unaware that Mr. Clark was in the backyard of his family member," Pierson wrote. "The autopsy of Mr. Clark revealed that he was under the influence of multiple drugs at the time of his death."
AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli
The prosecutors' letter also noted a recent domestic violence incident between Clark and the mother of his children, which the letter said had "[rendered] him suicidal."
"Laying out the facts surrounding Mr. Clark's tragic final moments are not made in disrespect for his life. Rather, they are a testament to the tragedy of his circumstances and those faced by our communities," the letter said.
According to a toxicology report from 2018, Clark had marijuana, alcohol, and prescription drugs in his system when he was killed by police.
It added: "By omitting these critical facts, you missed the opportunity to address issues faced by our communities including those surrounding drug addiction, mental health struggles, and domestic violence."
The officers who killed Clark were permitted in 2019 to return to "full, active" duty last year after the US Justice Department declined to press federal charges against them, according to local news outlet CapRadio.
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