Witnesses Outraged after Sacramento Sheriff’s Deputy Hits Protester with Patrol Car

SACRAMENTO -- A protester demonstrating in the name of Stephon Clark is recovering after she was hit Saturday night by a Sacramento County Sheriff’s patrol vehicle.

The deputy at the wheel drove off as the woman hit the ground.

A video shows officers in two patrol cars giving warnings to the crowd of protesters around their cars to move out of their way. Both then drove off as the second clipped protester Wanda Cleveland.

Cleveland, 61, spoke with FOX40 over the phone but declined an on-camera interview. She remains in pain as she recovers at home and says she’s angry. She has retained an attorney.

Many protesters say they were already out demonstrating what they found to be abuses of law enforcement's power and this incident does nothing to alleviate their concerns.

“We’re like really? That’s when we all started getting frustrated,” said Ciara Picou-Grant.

“I was so shocked to see it happen and then just that it was the officer that was the one that did the hit-and-run, which is what I consider it,” said Marissa Barrera.

Both Picou-Grant and Barrera witnessed Cleveland get hit.

“If that didn’t happen we would’ve been okay," Picou-Grant said. "But if you act we’re gonna react. Don’t expect to hurt us and expect us not to fire back."

Some protesters say the tense moment escalated the anger in the crowd.

“I wasn’t surprised that [the officer] drove off,” Barrera said. She’s been protesting since Stephon Clark’s death and has been critical of law enforcement in the Sacramento region in the past. Her brother, Michael Barrera, was killed at the hands of law enforcement in Yolo County after being tased.

Saturday night, Barrera questioned why officers drove up toward the protest at all.

“I felt like they almost taunted the group and I knew they weren’t gonna stop. That’s how they’ve been acting through these protests," Barrera said.

The sheriff's office declined an interview with FOX40 Sunday but released a statement, which said in part:

“As protesters approached both of the marked vehicles, they began yelling while pounding and kicking the vehicles’ exterior. As one of the Sheriff’s Deputies was driving, a collision occurred involving the Sheriff’s patrol vehicle and a protester who was walking in the roadway. The collision occurred while the patrol vehicle was traveling at slow speeds.”

“She was walking directly right from the roadway to the sidewalk. He obviously could see her,” said Cres Vallucci, vice president of the National Lawyers Guild, a group that monitors protests and watches for police abuse.

Vallucci says from his view, Cleveland wasn’t intentionally blocking the officer’s vehicle when it hit her but rather was trying to get out of the way.

“Some demonstrators have done that. She was not doing that, she was just going to the sidewalk," Vallucci said. "She was moving, I won't say fast and she wasn't moving slow. But she was moving like a normal gate for a woman who is 61 years old."

Vallucci says he and other attorneys documented what happened and offered up their evidence, including video and witness statements to CHP officers at the scene. He claims those officers acted in a hostile way toward him and refused to take his report Saturday night.

Vallucci also calls what the deputy who hit Cleveland did a hit-and-run.

“If you or I would’ve done that, we’d be in jail,” Vallucci said.

The CHP also declined an interview with FOX40 but released its own statement, which read in part:

“Due to the large number of demonstrators at the scene, the potential volatility of the situation, and in the interest of the safety of the demonstrators and responding officers, the CHP was unable to access the scene of the incident Saturday night.”

The CHP is handling the accident investigation while the Sacramento County Sheriff's Office is working on its own internal investigation of the events Saturday night that led to Cleveland’s hospitalization.

Black Lives Matter has called for a "National Day of Action" to be held on Wednesday. Local demonstrators will meet at the District Attorney's Office in Sacramento, where previous marches have started.