ABC, CBS Stick to Family-Ordered Autopsy in Sacramento Police Shooting

March 4th, 2019 7:04 AM

Over the weekend, in the aftermath of the decision not to charge two police officers who shot vandalism suspect Stephon Clark a year ago in Sacramento, ABC and CBS cited the family-ordered second autopsy claiming Clark was mostly shot in the back without mentioning the state autopsy which disagreed.

In fact, last year, the results of the Sacramento county autopsy received very little attention by the dominant media after the family-ordered autopsy, which was announced first, had received widespread attention. Last spring, the Sacramento police shooting led the evening newscasts and drew more than 500 minutes of attention on CNN and MSNBC

Also of note, after Saturday's NBC Nightly News wrongly claimed that Clark was shot by police while he was running away, Sunday's show corrected the claim and informed viewers that, according to investigators, Clark was moving toward officers when they started shooting.

On Sunday's CBS Weekend News, during a full report, correspondent Ileana Diaz informed viewers that the D.A. for Sacramento had decided not to charge the officers, and then recalled that the cops had been chasing him on suspicion of vandalism.

She related: "After a chase, investigators say he appeared to turn toward officers, and they opened fire, believing he had a weapon. Police fired 20 shots."

Then, as if it were the only autopsy on the matter that was done, the CBS reporter added: "Pathologists found Clark was shot eight times, including six shots in the back. All he had in his hand was a cell phone."

On the same day's World News Tonight, ABC correspondent Zachary Kiesch filed a full report and cited the family autopsy without mentioning the Sacramento county autopsy as he recounted: "An autopsy paid for by the family says he was shot several times in the back."

But the autopsy performed by Sacramento county contradicted the findings of the second autopsy, concluding that half the shots hit Clark in the side as he moved toward police.

At the time, even the left-wing Mother Jones suggested that the county autopsy had a better chance of being accurate because it was conducted first, even though the findings were not made public until after the second autopsy's results had already been announced.

As for NBC, on Saturday night, fill-in anchor Peter Alexander read a brief on the story and claimed that "Clark was running away from police when they shot him," but, on the next day's show, fill-in host Kate Snow corrected the claim:

Last night, we incorrectly reported that Stephon Clark was running away from police when they shot him. Yesterday, the district attorney said an investigation concluded that Clark was advancing toward the officers in a shooting stance. The officers said they thought he was pointing a gun at them. Clark was later found to be holding a cell phone.