Sacramento Sheriff’s Vehicle Strikes Protestor at Stephon Clark Vigil

Men and women gathered in downtown Sacramento last weekend for an impromptu memorial vigil and protest to honor Stephon Clark, an unarmed black man who was killed by police on March 18.

Clark had been approached by local law police officers at night behind his grandparents’ house. The officers at the scene say they opened fire on Clark because they believed he was brandishing a firearm; in reality, he was holding a cell phone.

An autopsy on Clark’s body found that he had been shot eight times – six times in the back.

Among those in attendance at the memorial gathering on the night of March 31 was 61-year-old Wanda Cleveland. Outraged by this incident and the lack of accountability surrounding Clark’s death, Cleveland and others — mostly black Sacramento residents — have been taking to the streets to demand justice.

But as tensions between local residents and the police in the California capital grew, the vigil took an unexpected turn for the worse: A police vehicle struck a protester before fleeing the scene.

Peaceful protesters in one part of the city on Saturday night were circling sheriff department vehicles, according to eyewitnesses. A member of the department, most likely a deputy, began ordering demonstrators to clear away from his vehicle. After a fourth warning, the vehicle began moving slowly through the crowd.

Then, a second sheriff’s department vehicle sped up to follow the first car, striking Cleveland and knocking her to the ground.  “He never even stopped,” she says. Witnesses say the second vehicle gave no warnings to the crowd.

A video from a bystander confirms this sequence of events. Please be aware that some readers may find the content to be disturbing.

Cleveland was taken to a nearby hospital where she was treated for bruises to her head and arm. She was released later that night. Understandably upset, Cleveland claims that if she had committed a similar “hit-and-run” she would “be charged.”

Officials have acknowledged the incident and insist that the Sacramento Sheriff’s Department will conduct an internal probe. California Highway Patrol will also conduct an investigation.

Unfortunately, these promises are not very likely to appease black Sacramento residents — and for good reason.

At the vigil as a legal observer, Cres Velluchi says he managed to note the number of the vehicle that hit Cleveland. When he called California Highway Patrol to file a report, Velluchi says his information was not recorded.

Then, there is the seeming inaction when it comes to the Sacramento Sheriff’s Department identifying and disciplining — if not charging — the deputy who was behind the wheel Saturday night. Instead, the best the department has to offer beyond hollow promises are speculative excuses and deflection.

In a press conference on Wednesday, Sheriff Scott Jones stated that it was likely the deputy was simply unaware that he had struck Cleveland, calling it an “unfortunate event.” Jones added that the deputy was likely distracted by the “threat” of the protesters.

When pressed about this account, Jones contradicted himself by admitting that he has “no idea” if the deputy was aware that he had hit a protester

During the conference, Jones went on to play dash cam video of the hit-and-run, showing Cleveland being struck. Cleveland’s lawyer says this footage proves that the deputy deliberately hit her client.

Sheriff Jones’ unusual conference also included his insistence that there were “professional protesters” present in order to inflate the size of Saturday’s vigil, as well as to incite conflict.

If this whole affair did not smell fishy enough, leaked details regarding Clark’s killing are equally suspicious. One of the most damning details to surface about that night is the fact that the officers on the scene mutually agreed to mute the microphones on their body cams after shooting Clark dead.

Take Action!

There’s something rotten in the Sacramento Sheriff’s Department. It has been over two weeks since Stephon Clark was gunned down by law enforcement officers. Yet it appears that little is being done to see that justice is realized.

Worse, now it appears possible that at least one member of the sheriff’s department has a disturbing disregard for life — well, at least, the lives of those who are critical of the police.

Instead of addressing this troubling problem, Sacramento County Sheriff Scott Jones is busy making baseless, antagonistic accusations against protesters while defending the possibly criminal acts of his deputies.

And that’s precisely why California Attorney General Xavier Becerra must conduct an external probe of the Sacramento Sheriff’s Department.

If you agree, please add your name to this Care2 petition and ask Becerra to have his office begin this investigation! Please make sure to share the petition with family, friends and on social media for maximum exposure!

Concerned about an issue? Want to raise awareness about an injustice? Join your fellow Care2 users by learning how to make your own petition and make your voice heard today!

 

Photo Credit: Elvert Barnes/Flickr

49 comments

Marie W
Marie W6 months ago

Thank you.

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Mike R
Mike R10 months ago

Signed, thanks

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Mike R
Mike R10 months ago

Signed, thanks

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Jennifer H
Jennifer H10 months ago

More unacceptable actions by law enforcement that are being swept under rugs.

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Janet B
Janet B12 months ago

Thanks

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Leanne K
Leanne Kabout a year ago

Heavens

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Fiona O
Fiona Ogilvieabout a year ago

That sign is absolutely right. Injustice anywhere is injustice everywhere. Thank you for this article. I will share on twitter.

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Janet B
Janet Babout a year ago

Thanks

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Chrissie R
Chrissie Rabout a year ago

Thank you for posting.

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Brian F
Brian Fabout a year ago

Luna, maybe the protesters got to close, but even so, pedestrians have the right of way. If your parked in your car, and you move forward and hit someone, you're still at fault, and this officer refused to stop to help the victim, which is hit and run, a serious felony. Also it was not an accident that the unarmed black guy was shot 8 times, 6 in the back. It's not a crime to hold a cell phone. We need an investigation, and these officers need to be put in jail without pay, like anyone else would be, until one is done.

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