LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Dashboard-camera footage of a patrol car striking a Sacramento, California, demonstrator during a march over the shooting of a young black man was released on Monday, and the sheriff said it was not clear from the images if the deputy was aware of the collision.
The video footage appears to show the protester, Wanda Cleveland, moving in front of a sheriff’s department vehicle, possibly to show the deputies inside a sign she is holding.
Cleveland, a well-known local activist, then tries to scramble out of the way as the squad car moves slowly forward and is struck a glancing blow.
“There is a high likelihood that he didn’t even know that he collided with that protester,” Sacramento County Sheriff Scott Jones said at a news conference. Jones conceded that he was only speculating and had not spoken to the deputy who drove the car.
Cleveland, 61, was treated at a local hospital for minor injuries and has since been released.
A lawyer for Cleveland, Mark Reichel, said it was not possible that the deputy did not see his client, whom he claimed was trying to get to a sidewalk at the time.
“It appears from all evidence that he hit her intentionally. He drove away from an injured woman intentionally,” Reichel said in a written statement, adding that Cleveland would not speak to police or the media.
“She is considering her legal options and taking the time to get over the trauma, fright and injuries she suffered Saturday night. She suffered physical and psychological harm which will take time to heal,” Reichel said.
At the time Cleveland was struck by the car she was taking part in protests over the death of Stephon Clark, 22, who was killed on March 18 in a hail of bullets fired by Sacramento police officers in the backyard of his grandparents’ home.
The death of Clark, a father of two, was the latest in a string of killings of black men by police that have sparked protests and fuelled renewed debate about bias in the U.S. criminal justice system.
Protesters on Saturday surrounded two marked Sacramento County Sheriff’s Department patrol cars and began yelling, and pounding and kicking the vehicles, the sheriff’s department has said.
The sheriff’s department said the car was damaged by protesters, with dents and a shattered rear window.
The California Highway Patrol and the sheriff’s office were investigating the incident.
Reporting by Dan Whitcomb in Los Angeles; Additional reporting by Keith Coffman in Denver; Editing by Leslie Adler