Sacramento sheriff's vehicle hits protester at Stephon Clark vigil

Posted at 9:20 AM, Apr 01, 2018

A bystander video shows the moment a demonstrator was hit by a Sacramento County Sheriff's deputy's vehicle Saturday night as people protested the shooting death of Stephon Clark.

The collision happened during a vigil as a woman carrying a "Stephon Clark Rest in Power" sign walked in front of a sheriff's vehicle and motioned the driver to stop, according to a video from the National Lawyers Guild Legal Observers obtained by CNN.

The deputy then drove away, said Guy Danilowitz, a legal observer who recorded the video.

"The vehicle accelerated and struck her, accelerated very fast and struck her violently and she fell to the ground," Danilowitz said.

"It was a very fast acceleration, not the way you would move with people around," he added.

The woman suffered minor injuries and was taken to a hospital, according to the Sacramento County Sheriff's Department.

About eight seconds before the collision, a deputy inside the sheriff's SUV could be heard on a loudspeaker repeatedly telling protesters to "back away from my car."

The Sacramento County Sheriff's Department said protesters approached the vehicles and "began yelling while pounding and kicking the vehicles' exterior."

"The collision occurred while the patrol vehicle was traveling at slow speeds," said Sheriff's spokesman Sgt. Shaun Hampton.

Hampton said the deputy's vehicle had scratches, dents and a shattered rear window following the collision.

"The damage to the vehicle was not a result of the collision involving the pedestrian but was caused by vandals in the crowd," Hampton said.

A spokesman with the California Highway Patrol had said it is investigating the incident and would not confirm whether the incident was a hit and run.

Frustration and anger mount

Several demonstrations have been held in California's capital since the deadly encounter two weeks ago.

Police fatally shot Clark -- an unarmed black man -- in his grandmother's backyard on March 18. Officers said they thought Clark had a gun, but only his cellphone was found at the scene.

Last week, protesters gathered in front of the Sacramento County District Attorney's Office holding their cellphones in reference to the cellphone found near Clark's body.

They have also blocked fans from entering NBA games and joined Clark's brother as he interrupted a City Council meeting and chanted his brother's name.

Hours before Saturday's incident, former Sacramento Kings forward Matt Barnes led demonstrators in a rally with Clark's family.

"It's more than color," Barnes told the crowd. "It comes down to wrong and right."

He also announced he was starting a scholarship fund for Clark's two sons.

He was shot by police 8 times, independent autopsy shows

An independent autopsy showed Clark was shot by Sacramento police eight times, with six of those wounds in his back, according to Dr. Bennet Omalu, the forensic pathologist who conducted the separate autopsy.

Attorneys for Clark's family said at a news conference Friday that the autopsy results contradict the account of the shooting presented by Sacramento police.

The initial autopsy conducted by the Sacramento County Coroner determined the cause of Clark's death as multiple gunshot wounds, and the manner of death was homicide, according to a preliminary report. Authorities have not released the full report.

"The narrative that had been put forth was that they had to open fire because he was charging at them," said Benjamin Crump, one of the Clark family's lawyers. "Well obviously, based on Dr. Omalu's findings and the family's autopsy, it suggests all the bullets were from behind."

Police released footage of Clark's shooting 72 hours after it happened. In the video, someone can be heard telling officers to mute their body cameras. The comment comes about seven minutes after Clark was shot multiple times.

Sacramento Police Chief Daniel Hahn told CNN he doesn't know why the cameras were muted. Officers are allowed to do so in specific situations, like when they're talking to a confidential informant.

Hahn announced this week that California Attorney General Xavier Becerra will hold an independent investigation of the shooting.