(SACRAMENTO, Calif.) — Video from the dashboard camera inside a sheriff’s department car that struck a protester shows the vehicle hitting the woman and driving away, the latest flashpoint following the fatal police shooting of an unarmed black man in California’s capital city.
Sacramento Sheriff Scott Jones said at a Monday news conference the law enforcement official behind the wheel likely didn’t know he hit someone. He hasn’t spoken to the driver, whose name has not been released.
California Highway Patrol is investigating the incident. The woman who was struck, Wanda Cleveland, is considering her legal options, her attorney Mark Reichel said in a statement.
The Saturday demonstration followed weeks of protests of the March 18 death of Stephon Clark, who was shot by Sacramento police officers responding to a call of someone breaking into car windows. Police said they thought he had a gun, but he was carrying only a cell phone.
Much of the outrage surrounding Clark’s death has been directed at the Sacramento Police Department and the officers who shot him.
But protesters gathered outside the sheriff’s department Saturday because a sheriff’s 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 narrated as he played the video at the news conference, indicating the moment just before the car struck the protester. “The female protester chose this moment to bring her protest in between the vehicles.”
Reichel disputed that characterization and said Cleveland was not a paid protester. Cleveland is a longtime Sacramento resident and activist.
“It is not possible that the officer did not see her,” he said. “It appears from all evidence that he hit her intentionally. He drove away from an injured woman intentionally.”
The collision caused her “physical and psychological harm,” Reichel said. He said Cleveland hit her head and injured her arm.
Jones, a Republican up for re-election, showed the dashboard video Monday at a news conference but isn’t releasing it publicly.