White House: Stephon Clark shooting probe best left 'to local authorities'

The Trump administration does not plan to call for a federal investigation into the recent deadly shooting of an unarmed black man in Sacramento, Calif., by a police officer. 

White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders told reporters Wednesday that the president believes it is a "local matter and something we feel should be left up to local authorities." 

"We want to make sure all law enforcement is carrying out the letter of the law," Sanders said. "The president is very supportive of law enforcement. But at the same time, in these specific cases and specific instances, those will be left up to local authorities to make that determination and is not something for the federal government to weigh in on.”


Repeatedly pressed on the issue by reporters, Sanders pointed to the president's policies that promote a "better America for every American." She added that the administration wants to protect every child in America, noting policies on securing the border preventing the flow of drugs and hardening school security. 

Sacramento has been roiled by the March 18 death of Stephon Clark, a 22-year-old man who was shot by police while unarmed on his family's property. Police have said they thought Clark had a gun, but he appears to have been holding a cellphone.

On Tuesday, the California attorney general announced his office would be assisting local law enforcement in investigating the incident. 

Under former President Obama, the Justice Department took an active role in investigating police departments after officer-involved shootings of unarmed black men. The department investigated high-profile officer-involved shootings in places like Ferguson, Mo.; Sanford, Fla.; and Cleveland.

Those investigations sometimes uncovered what Justice referred to as widespread issues within local departments. 

Probes into the Cleveland and Ferguson police departments uncovered what the Justice Department referred to as a pattern of unreasonable or excessive force among officers.

But the Trump Justice Department has distanced itself from similar investigations, preferring that local authorities take the reins instead.