Autopsy Controversy

An official autopsy report released by the Sacramento County Coroner’s Office on Stephon Clark contradicts the independent autopsy that the family commissioned.

The county’s report claims that Clark was shot three times in the back as opposed to the six times documented in the independent autopsy.

Clark was killed by police in his grandmother’s backyard the night of March 18; authorities claimed he was holding a gun, but found only a cell phone next to his body.

The independent autopsy was conducted at the end of March by Dr. Bennet Omalu, who is most well-known for his pioneering discoveries in the field of neural trauma.

He is the forensic pathologist who discovered chronic traumatic encephalopathy, or CTE, which is a neural condition experienced by many professional football players who have endured numerous concussions throughout their career.

Dr. Gregory D. Reiber who reviewed the autopsy on behalf of the county, asserts that Omalu mistook an exit wound for an entrance wound, and that Clark was primarily shot in the right side, also contradicting Omalu’s claims that Clark was shot at from behind.

That being said, Reiber did not actually examine Clark’s body and used only photos, diagrams, and police footage to reach his conclusions.

Reiber also asserts that it is entirely possible that the claims made by police that Clark was approaching officers at the time of the shooting are accurate.

Finally, results of a toxicology report show that Clark had a range of substances in his system at the time of his death, including cannabis, codeine, and cocaine.

These findings will surely be used as ammunition by those who seek to justify Clark’s killing as well as those who seek to demonize him as a black man.

That being said, none of these results – from the toxicology report or the autopsies – change anything about the tragedy of Clark’s death, nor should the results diminish the outrage and fury that the people of Sacramento feel over his killing.

Even if he was shot in the side more than the back, and even if there were controlled substances in his system when he died, none of that changes the fact that he was an innocent man, minding his own business in his own backyard holding his own cell phone and not a gun when he was killed.

Iron Triangle Press will continue to follow this story.

To read our original coverage of the shooting, click here.

To read our coverage of the independent autopsy report, click here.


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