Sacramento Black Lives Matter to Launch ‘Copwatch’ Program

SACRAMENTO -- The Sacramento chapter of Black Lives Matter plans to train more people to video record Sacramento police to curb shootings like last the one Sunday night.

Family members say 23-year-old Stephen Clark is the man who Sacramento police shot and killed in his grandparents' backyard. Their house is where Clark planned to stay that night.

While details of what led police to shoot him are still under investigation, Black Lives Matter says it will soon be training volunteers to film police activity.

"The more cameras, the more recordings we have, the better," said Cres Vellucci, vice president of Sacramento's National Lawyer's Guild.

National Lawyer's Guild volunteers often observe police and activists during protests.

"They will be trained, I'm sure, through copwatch, and again through our program. It's the same type of thing, where you get people trained to get close enough to get the shot but not too close to interfere," Vellucci said.

However, the Sacramento Police Officers Association, the union that represents department employees, does not believe having more cameras on its officers is always a good thing.

"People do have the right to record officers in public spaces and we recognize that but often it's difficult for a person who is recording to stay uninvolved," said SPOA President Tim Davis.

Davis said a copwatch program is also unnecessary because of all the other cameras police carry themselves.

"Police officers have body cameras. Police officers have in-car cameras," Davis said. "There's cameras in the businesses they interact with. There's cameras everywhere."

But Vellucci points to a recent Sacramento Police Department body camera that fell when an officer got into a confrontation with a suspect. The camera missed a crucial moment when that suspect later fired the officer's gun at him.

"We've discovered recently that a lot of times officers don't have their body cams on," Vellucci told FOX40.

Black Lives Matter Sacramento declined to comment on their copwatch program but they tell FOX40 they will be holding a seminar for those who want to volunteer next month.