Last week, the family of Amber Clark, a librarian murdered in 2018, filed a lawsuit against the Sacramento Police Department and the Sacramento County District Attorney. Attorneys for the family claim there was “no disclosure of any information” about the gun used in the crime, how the suspect Ronald Seay was able to procure the weapon, and “very little explanation” as to why the police and district attorney wanted to keep the information from the victim’s family. The June 30 filing offers some clues.
“On December 11, 2018, Ronald Seay shot and killed Amber Clark while she was sitting in her car in front of the North Natomas branch of the Sacramento Public Library, where she worked as a supervisor,” the filing states. “Seay shot her 11 times in the face and head at point-blank range.”
The African American Seay hails from Missouri, where he was banned from the Ferguson Public Library after threatening workers. In 2017, as a student at the University of Missouri-St. Louis, Seay threatened to “shoot up” the place and kill people on campus. Two weeks after the threat, police removed him from the campus but according to St. Louis Post-Dispatch reporter Kim Bell, “it wasn’t clear why that much time elapsed before his removal.”
When Seay was fired from his campus job, he yelled at an employee, “You don’t own me, white devil!” Police submitted a report to St. Louis County mental health court and according to Kim Bell, “where it went from there is unclear.” It is clear that Seay moved on to Sacramento in October 2018, where he encountered librarian Amber Clark.
In politically correct terms, Clark was a woman of no color and according to the Sacramento library a “champion for accessibility and inclusion, teaching all of us that we are all people and not defined by our disabilities or differences.” Forty-one at the time of the murder, Clark was sitting in her car when the masked Seay, 56, gunned her down.
Apprehended the following day, Seay was charged with “lying in wait” to murder Clark. Planning would discount the role of mental illness in the killing. The murder weapon was reportedly a 9mm pistol, and 11 rounds to the woman’s face and head, what police call “overkill,” could indicate an execution or a hate crime.
Ronald Seay was not charged with a hate crime and reports did not speculate whether the accused murderer could be a racist. The murder case was not decried as an example of “gun violence,” and did not prompt an investigation by the state attorney general.
The attorneys want to know how Seay was able to procure a weapon from a Missouri pawn shop “even though the background check was not completed.” These are legitimate questions, but not the only reason the murder of Amber Clark failed to draw the attention it deserved.
On March 18, 2018, Sacramento police officers Terrence Mercadal and Jared Robinet responded to a 911 call from a neighborhood where three cars had been burglarized. The officers encountered Stephon Clark, 22, as he attempted to shatter the back window of a residence. In the ensuing chase and confrontation, the officers shot the unarmed Clark, an African American, who died of multiple gunshot wounds.
In 2014, Stephon Clark received five years probation for a robbery charge. The next year Clark was arrested for “procuring someone for the purpose of prostitution” and in 2016 he was arrested for “battery of a cohabitant.”
The case became the prevailing cause for Black Lives Matter, whose mobs took over downtown Sacramento, blocking access to a Sacramento Kings game and halting traffic on Interstate 5. Mobs surrounded cars and broke windows, but news reports hailed peaceful protests. Officer Terrence Mercadal is black, but BLM decried the shooting of Clark as an example of police racism, brutality, and excessive use of force.
Outcry over the police shooting prompted an investigation by California attorney general Xavier Becerra, who concluded: “After a thorough consideration of all relevant evidence and information, the Attorney General concludes that no criminal charges against the officers can be sustained.”
Despite many questions about Ronald Seay, no such investigation occurred after the murder of Amber Clark. The horrific crime prompted no charges of racism, no hate-crime prosecution and not even a local outcry over gun violence. Prosecutors are not seeking the death penalty and a competency hearing for Seay is slated for September. In the meantime, if anybody thought Amber Clark’s life didn’t matter it would be hard to blame them.
According to the June 30 filing, Amber’s husband Kelly Clark, a 21-year Air Force veteran, struggles with depression and anxiety and “also lives with a fear of being ambushed in his own car.” Kiona Millirons, Amber’s sister, “likewise fears becoming a target of gun violence, particularly after speaking out about the circumstances of Amber’s death.”
Apparently family members of murder victims are supposed to keep quiet and take a knee. In California’s capital, no justice also means no peace.