SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) — Video shown Monday that was taken by a dashboard camera inside a sheriff’s vehicle shows it hitting a protester and driving away — the latest flashpoint following the fatal police shooting of an unarmed black man in Sacramento.
The law enforcement official behind the wheel likely didn’t know he hit someone, Sheriff Scott Jones said at a news conference where the video was shown, noting that he hasn’t spoken to the driver, whose name has not been released.
The Sheriff’s Department said the woman who was hit had minor injuries. The California Highway Patrol is investigating. The woman, 61-year-old Wanda Cleveland, is considering her legal options, her attorney Mark Reichel said in a statement.
The demonstration on Saturday night followed two weeks of protests over the March 18 death of 22-year-old Stephon Clark, who was shot by Sacramento police responding to a call of someone breaking car windows.
Police said they thought he had a gun but only a cellphone was found nearby after the shooting. Protesters gathered outside a sheriff’s facility Saturday because a department helicopter had helped police pursue Clark.
Jones took a defiant tone when describing the collision and blamed “paid protesters” for causing chaos at the scene. “There’s still much aggression along the driver’s side of the unit,” Jones said as he narrated the video at the news conference.
He said that just before the car struck the protester, “The female protester chose this moment to bring her protest in between the vehicles.” Jones, a Republican up for re-election, didn’t release the video publicly.
Reichel disputed that characterization and said Cleveland is a longtime Sacramento resident and activist, not a paid protester. “It is not possible that the officer did not see her,” the lawyer said. “It appears from all evidence that he hit her intentionally. He drove away from an injured woman intentionally.”
The collision caused “physical and psychological harm,” Reichel said. Cleveland hit her head, injured her arm and spent several hours at a hospital, he said. Jones has created “suspicion and lack of trust about his department,” Reichel said in an interview with The Associated Press.