Report: Protester at fault for injuries by sheriff’s SUV
SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) — A 62-year-old demonstrator was at fault when she was injured by a Sacramento County sheriff’s patrol vehicle while protesting the killing of an unarmed black man by police, investigators said Friday.
Activist Wanda Cleveland walked into the path of the sport utility vehicle while carrying a protest sign and tried to stop the vehicle, the California Highway Patrol said in a report released to The Sacramento Bee.
Previously released video from a dashboard camera inside the sheriff’s vehicle shows it hitting Cleveland and driving away.
Cleveland hit her head, injured her arm and spent several hours at a hospital, incurring nearly $43,000 in medical bills, said her attorney, Mark Reichel. She has filed a claim against the county seeking damages.
Cleveland was among about 100 demonstrators gathered at an intersection near a sheriff’s substation on March 31 to protest the fatal shooting of Stephon Clark by two Sacramento police officers earlier that month.
The officers said they thought Clark had a gun while running from police during a vandalism investigation. Investigators found only a cellphone.
The report says Cleveland was holding a sign and marching east in the westbound lanes as Deputy Miguel Trejo approached in a Ford Explorer SUV.
“Cleveland left her location of safety and began to walk into the #3 lane purposely placing herself in harm’s way,” the report states.
It says she failed to yield the right of way to an emergency vehicle with its lights activated and tried to stop the SUV by placing her hand up.
The deputy never saw her because his “attention was drawn to the left as his vehicle began being attacked aggressively” by protesters who shattered the rear hatch window and caused other damage, the report found.
The right front of the SUV hit Cleveland, who rolled off onto the roadway.
Trejo first saw the collision when he reviewed the dash-cam video after he was back at the substation and immediately reported it to his supervisor, the report says.
Reichel said he was disappointed in the report and questioned whether it was influenced by the sheriff’s department.
“Her sign was made out of paper,” he told the newspaper. “His car was made out of steel.”