Stephon Clark was gunned down by police on March 18 in his grandmother’s backyard which has outraged the community and sparked local protests. With tensions already high, residents now have to cope with a hit-and-run on Saturday night involving a Sacramento County Sheriff’s Department vehicle and a local activist. The incident has further fanned the flames of unrest.
Video of the incident is now making its way around the internet and the public is demanding immediate action. The Sacramento Bee reported that Wanda Cleveland was struck by a police SUV as she crossed in front of what appeared to be a stopped vehicle. After the collision sent Cleveland tumbling down to the curb, the driver sped away.
Emergency medical services were called in to transport her to Kaiser Permanente South Sacramento Medical Center where Cleveland was treated for bruising on the back of her head and on her arms. She was released early Sunday morning.
The incident was caught on video by Guy Danilowitz of the National Lawyers Guild who was filming the Stephon Clark demonstration on Florin Road. The footage provides a narrative that is in sharp contrast to what sheriff’s spokesman Sgt. Shaun Hampton offered in a press release on Sunday. According to Hampton, “vandals in the crowd” had surrounded two department vehicles and yelled while kicking and defacing them.
However, ABC Channel 10 News footage showed a crowd of people surrounding one vehicle and then dispersing after the driver warned them to move away from the vehicle. That sheriff’s vehicle left the scene slowly, but a second vehicle quickly accelerated as Cleveland attempted to get out of the street. The SUV struck the 61-year-old woman who suffers from arthritis that weakens her knees. Eyewitnesses reportedly heard the wheels spinning before colliding with the well-known activist.
The department statement offered no explanation for why the driver fled the scene. Cleveland told The Sacramento Bee that the officer’s actions were a total “disregard for human life” and a crime that no civilian could commit without being charged. Thanks to Danilowitz’s video, the sheriff’s department vehicle license plate and squad car number were recorded.
Hampton alleged that the vehicles were moving at very slow speeds, but Danilowitz told CNN that the deputy accelerated very fast and struck Cleveland violently. Danilowitz said that no one driving a vehicle would be that reckless moving through a crowd of people.