May 2 (UPI) — The official autopsy of Stephon Clark, who died in March after being shot by California police officers, has revealed a different picture of the shooting than a private family examination portrayed.
The Sacramento County coroner’s report, released Tuesday, concluded Clark was shot seven times — with three of the bullets entering his back.
Clark, 22, was shot March 18 standing in his grandmother’s yard by Sacramento officers responding to a vandalism call. Police said he’d refused orders to drop his cellphone, which the officers mistook for a weapon.
The Clark family, after a private autopsy, said previously he’d been shot eight times –with six entering his back.
County coroner Kimberly Gin said last week she enlisted the help of multiple pathologists to clarify “erroneous information that was released from the private autopsy.”
Dr. Gregory Reiber, one of three who reviewed the coroner’s autopsy, said its findings also differ about where the first shot hit Clark. He said it conflicts with the private autopsy regarding the direction Clark was facing in relation to the officers.
Dr. Bennet Omalu, the pathologist hired by the Clark family, had previously concluded Clark was not facing toward the officers when they started shooting. Reiber disagreed, saying the first shot likely hit his left thigh “either as Clark was walking toward the officers’ position with his left thigh raised, or possibly in the crouching position.”
Reiber said police video footage of the shooting supports his conclusions.
“At no time does the video show Clark to have the left side of his body facing the officers’ position as shots are fired, nor does the video show him turning around from a left-facing position, still upright, and putting his back squarely toward the officers as there are further shots fired,” Reiber wrote. “The video evidence provides clear refutation of Omalu’s description of Clark’s positioning during the shooting.”
Omalu stood by his determinations Tuesday, and questioned the coroner’s request for Reiber to review the case.
“I find it extremely unusual that an outside doctor is reviewing an autopsy report and is coming out to state [I] am wrong,” Omalu said. “A doctor cannot say another doctor is wrong. All you can say is, I don’t agree with the opinion of that doctor.”
A toxicology report said traces of cocaine, marijuana and the opioid codeine were found in Clark’s system.