A former professional basketball player has led hundreds of protesters who gathered in the centre of Sacramento to demonstrate over the police killing of an unarmed black man, the day after an autopsy showed he had been shot six times in the back.
Matt Barnes, a former player with the Sacramento Kings, spoke to protesters as they marched through California’s state capital, for the fifth successive day of demonstrations.
“It’s more than colour. It’s about wrong and right,” Barnes told the crowd taking part in an event that had been titled Rally for Unity and Action. He urged police to get out their vehicles and walk their beats so they could reduce the community’s fear of shootings.
According to the Los Angeles Times, he added: “Learn the community that you’re out here patrolling. People fear what they don’t know.”
Mr Barnes, who attended 22-year-old Stephon Clark’s funeral on Thursday, said: “These officers don’t know us and we don’t know them. Together we’re much stronger than being separate.”
Mr Clark was fatally shot last week by two Sacramento police officers. The post-mortem report commissioned by the young man’s family, suggested he was struck six times in the back. Police have said they thought the young man was armed when in truth he was carrying just a cell phone.
Dr Bennet Omalu, a private medical examiner, held a press conference on Friday at which he revealed Mr Clark was shot three times in his lower back, twice near his right shoulder, once in his neck and once under an armpit. He was also shot in the leg. The neck wound was from the side, the doctor found.
“He was shot from the back,” Mr Omalu said, adding that seven of the shots could have had a “fatal capacity”. He described severe damage to Mr Clark’s body, including a shattered vertebrae, a collapsed lung and an arm broken into “tiny bits”.
The Associated Press said that Mr Clark’s fiancé was taking part in the event and was expected to address protesters.
The protests have been largely remained peaceful, with leaders of Black Lives Matter Sacramento helping diffuse tensions.
Several hundred protesters marched through the centre of the city on Friday night, the fourth evening in a row after a community meeting at a South Sacramento church with several Sacramento Kings players.
The protests have been buoyed by the support of Black Lives Matters, national figures like National Action Network founder and president Rev Al Sharpton. The Sacramento Kings gained national attention for taking part in the demonstrations.
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