The Legacy of Stephon Clark is His Brother’s Mission
The Sacramento Bee releases “S.A.C.” a documentary on a city and family forever changed by the police shooting of Stephon Clark
By Alyssa Hodenfield, Video Producer, The Sacramento Bee and McClatchy
Stephon Clark was shot and killed by Sacramento Police Officers in his grandmother’s backyard on March 18, 2018. At the time, the officers said they thought he was pointing a gun at them, but he was actually holding a cell phone. Body camera footage released by the police department did nothing to quell growing outrage in the community. Protesters flooded the streets, shut down the freeway and nearly shut down a Sacramento Kings game by blocking entrances to the city’s arena, the Golden 1 Center.
The scale of this story was massive, not just in Sacramento but across the country. But what also made this story unique is that it did not stop with Clark’s death or protests. Even though the massive protests had ended, community members still called for accountability, change and legacy. And that became obvious to us when we set out to produce this documentary, “S.A.C.”
A collection of interviews, images and video from our reporters and photographers provided a foundation for a documentary on the impact of Stephon Clark’s death on his family, the Sacramento community, the legislature, policing and beyond.
I had previously produced a documentary on the 2018 Camp Fire. First-hand accounts from Sacramento Bee reporters and photographers provided a vivid recounting of the deadly fire. We had envisioned the Stephon Clark documentary having a similar feel: reflective and chronological. The plan was to have the film finished by the one year anniversary of Stephon Clark’s death in March 2019.
But the story was not finished.
California Attorney General Xavier Becerra determined the two police officers were justified in shooting Stephon Clark. Sacramento County District Attorney Anne Marie Schubert cleared them of criminal charges. Meanwhile, Stephon’s brother, Stevante Clark, vocal in the early days after the shooting, was taking a different approach. He became active in the community, planning events like a Stephon Clark legacy weekend and sitting on a board for a local ballot measure.
It was clear that there was more to this story, and to truly dig in on the impact of the shooting on the community, we needed to hear from more people. Including Stephon’s brother, Stevante.
We sat down with Stevante and learned he had been even more active in the community. He was attending transformation policing classes, meeting with city leaders, and most importantly, he was traveling to Washington D.C. to be on a panel alongside Sacramento Police Chief Daniel Hahn.
Stevante Clark is a large reason this story is still ongoing. He’s made his brother’s legacy his mission.
It seemed as if every time we thought the story was complete, we learned more. The documentary is more intense and complex than we could have even imagined when we first set out to produce the film, but I believe the complexity also brings with it more emotion, more community reaction, and even some uneasiness.
Each layer brought more complexity, but also more understanding of this difficult story.
As journalists, we seek to report the news that helps people understand what is happening in our communities. We’re grateful to all who contributed their time and perspective to this film and helped build understanding here in Sacramento and beyond.
The Sacramento Bee premiered its documentary, “S.A.C.” on Dec. 12 at the Sofia Tsakopoulos Center for The Arts to two sold-out free screenings for the community. Watch the documentary here. Consider supporting high impact local journalism in Sacramento through a subscription to The Bee. Subscribe here.