SACRAMENTO, Calif. — A neighbor said he regrets making the 911 call that preceded the fatal shooting by Sacramento police of an unarmed black man in his grandparents’ backyard.
Dave Reiling told the Sacramento Bee he heard breaking glass on the night of March 18, went outside and found the windows of his two trucks smashed and a man in a hooded sweatshirt nearby. He briefly chased the man down the block and then called authorities.
Reiling regretted that his report led to the killing of 22-year-old Stephon Clark.
“It makes me never want to call 911 again,” he said Monday.
Clark was shot by two Sacramento officers who fired 20 rounds while he stood in the backyard, across the street from Reiling’s residence.
Police have said the officers involved in the shooting — who have not been formally identified by the department because of threats — feared Clark was pointing a gun at them. An autopsy found that Clark was shot from behind.
Reiling, who is white, said he couldn’t make out facial features in the dark and wasn’t certain if the man he saw by his trucks was Clark. He also was not sure if there was anything in Clark’s hands, he said.
On the 911 call, Reiling keeps telling the dispatcher that “the dogs are going crazy” in the backyard where he thought the vandal had gone.
“He busted two of my windows in and he broke the car’s window across the street from me,” Reiling is heard saying in a recording released by police along with body camera video three days after the shooting.
Reiling stood on the street talking to the dispatcher on the phone until a helicopter and two patrol cars arrived. The helicopter crew instructed him to go indoors, so he did, he told the newspaper.
Minutes later, Reiling heard gunshots. He assumed police and the suspect were involved in a shootout, he said.
An officer is heard on the video yelling “gun” before he and his colleague shoot Clark, who was found with a cellphone but no weapon.
Reiling did not know Clark but said he saw him a few times when the young man visited his grandparents. Reiling, a mechanic, said he knew some of Clark’s family members better and occasionally worked on their cars.
Sacramento Police Chief Daniel Hahn has said he believes Clark was the man who broke car windows on the night of the shooting but could not yet “say factually it was him.”
Reiling said another nearby parked car also had a broken window.