A San Jose community activist who works with the police to help identify bias and improve relations with the community was seriously injured by a riot gun used by police during a protest last week, a new report reveals.
Derrick Sanderlin told ABC 7 News that he was with a group of protesters who shut down Highway 101 over the killing of George Floyd when some of them targeted a car with a “Blue Lives Matter” license plate frame. Sanderlin said he stepped in to ease tensions after a man with a skateboard smashed one of the car’s windows, then helped escort the driver to safety.
The California activist then went to San Jose City Hall, where police were shooting rubber bullets at protesters and again tried to ease tensions.
“I really just couldn’t watch it anymore,” Sanderlin said.
“And just kind of made like a parallel walkover, put my hands up, and just stood in the line of the fire and asked them to please not do this.”
Video from the encounter showed officers aiming riot guns at Sanderlin and firing several times, despite the activist standing far away from officers and making no aggressive movements toward police, the ABC 7 News report noted.
Sanderlin was hit in the groin by one of the projectiles, leading to emergency surgery and a warning from doctors that he may never be able to father children.
“The doctor had let me know before the operation that there’s no way of fully telling until you try to have kids,” Derrick Sanderlin said.
Derrick’s wife, Cayla Sanderlin, said it was heartbreaking to hear.
“And I just started weeping at the thought of that. You know, we, we do want kids and we’re very close to having kids,” she said.
Police across the country are facing intense scrutiny for actions toward protesters, including those who have remained peaceful. In Buffalo, two police officers seen pushing an elderly man who fell backward and struck his head on the pavement were arrested on Saturday. Donald Trump has also come under fire for a photo-op in front of a church near the White House that was preceded by police and military members aggressively pushing out peaceful protesters who were in the way of the president’s short walk from the White House to the church.
The Police in San Jose have also come under fire for an incident in which a man who helped police evacuate an injured police officer was later hit by a rubber bullet fired by police.
In San Jose, Derrick Sanderlin has retained a lawyer and is preparing to file a lawsuit against the city and police.