The Family of Don Clark Sr. Are Suing the St. Louis Police Over 2017 Killing

Image: Family of Don Clark, Sr

Lawyers for the civil rights organization ArchCity Defenders are fighting on behalf of Don Clark Sr. and his children. In 2017, the city of St. Louis and more than 20 local police officers are the subjects of a wrongful death suit tied to Clark’s death while they were attempting to execute a “no knock” warrant.

Officers claim that after they had applied for and received permissions to serve “no knock” warrants at three homes, they used a battering ram to knock down the door to his home in 4000 block of California Avenue in south St. Louis. After gaining entry, former St. Louis Police Chief Sam Dotson said at the time that a man inside the home fired a shot at them.

Police deployed a flashbang grenade before the individual fired another shot, Dotson said. One officer returned fire, fatally wounding Don Clark Sr., who was later pronounced dead at a local hospital. 

The team of lawyers who are representing Clark’s children say the patriarch of the family was a U.S. Army veteran, a father of 7, and a grandfather who suffered from vision and hearing loss, amidst a range of other health issues. 

They also believe and are arguing that law enforcement raided the wrong home.

The police are arguing the opposite, claiming the shooting death of Don Clark Sr. was justified, citing their recovery of two handguns and drugs from his residence. Police also say that Clark had numerous prior arrests, which has been disputed by the family, as they say their father was acting in self-defense.

The Clark family lawsuit seeks injunctive relief in the form of financial compensation for damages and written apologies from every defendant to Clark’s children, as well as mandatory police training and changes to department policy to avoid future incidents from placing others in a similar predicament.

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“It is abundantly clear from the situation that happened with Don Clark that nobody took a close look at this. Anyone including you would know that this is not the house to do a no knock search warrant,” said attorney Jerryl Christmas, who is representing the family. “What happened to Don shouldn’t have happened to anyone and we need to make sure our system is accountable at all levels.”

“We need to hold the people that say they’re going to continue to protect us to have accountability,” said Don Jr., who last spoke to his father on the night of his death. “I was robbed of that,” he added.

You can read the lawsuit in its entirety below:

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