Sacramento sheriff says deputy likely didn’t know he hit protester

It’s likely that a Sacramento sheriff’s deputy who struck a protester with a patrol SUV Saturday night didn’t realize he had hit someone, Sheriff Scott Jones said during a press conference Monday.

The patrol SUV struck a woman as she and others gathered in the street to denounce the killing of Stephon Clark, then left the scene, according to video of the incident. The woman suffered minor injuries and was taken to a hospital, according to the Sacramento County Sheriff’s Department.

“I haven’t spoken to the officer about the incident, I’m not even sure that his statement has been taken,” Jones said, adding that there has been no change to the deputy’s duties at this point during this investigation. “It’s an unfortunate event that punctuated an otherwise fantastic evening.”

The woman struck by the SUV was identified as Wanda Cleveland. Her attorney, Mark Reichel, said in a statement that she’s “considering her legal options and taking the time to get over the trauma, fright and injuries she suffered Saturday night.”

“It is not possible that the officer did not see her. It appears from all evidence that he hit her intentionally,” Reichel said. “He drove away from an injured woman intentionally.”

He said Cleveland “suffered physical and psychological harm” that will take time to heal.

Jones played the dash camera footage of the two patrol SUVs for media on Monday, but did not release it. One of the videos came from the patrol SUV that hit the woman, and the other from the patrol vehicle that was driving in front.

Jones said the deputies driving through the protest zone were returning to the sheriff station, and were neither assigned to nor involved in patrolling the protest. During this time, the deputies encountered a small group of protesters who were separate from the main group of protesters.

The video of the front vehicle shows protesters blocking the vehicle’s forward progress. The deputy tells the protesters to back away from the vehicle as it proceeds through.

In the second video, protesters also block the vehicle’s forward progress and protesters can be seen hitting and kicking the car. From the dash cam’s perspective, it’s difficult to see the collision with the woman, but it’s apparent a collision occurred when the crowd becomes more agitated. As the patrol SUV drives away, the shattering of the back window is heard.

During his presentation, Jones also showed the second vehicle had damage to the rear and a dent on the driver’s side of the vehicle.

Other than the woman being struck, Jones said the protest was peaceful and no one was arrested. The California Highway Patrol is investigating the incident, he said, and the Sacramento Sheriff’s Office opened an internal investigation into the incident.