A deputy inside two police SUVs could be heard on a loudspeaker repeatedly demanding protesters to “back away from my vehicle” before the crash at around 9 p.m. Both vehicles had their emergency lights as protesters walked between the cars and blocked traffic.
A sign-toting woman could be seen crossing in front of the second vehicle and motioning the deputy to stop as he lurched forward, according to video from a Sacramento lawyer. That’s when the deputy clipped the woman and drove off.
The moment of the crash was marked by screams before the footage abruptly ended.
“The vehicle just sped off. It was a hit and run,” said Guy Danilowitz, a legal observer for the National Lawyers Guild. “They didn’t even stop to see how she was doing.”
Danilowitz, who shot the video, said the woman was with protesters trying to cross the street.
“From what I could tell, she got hit hard,” Danilowitz told the Daily News.
In separate footage of the aftermath, another woman could be heard saying, “Didn’t even stop. Just hit her. Left her to die, just like Stephon.”
The woman suffered minor injuries in the crash, authorities said. She was identified by the Sacramento Bee newspaper as Wanda Cleveland.
She was released from a local hospital shortly after midnight and spoke to the paper.
“If I did that I’d be charged,” Cleveland said of the deputy driving off after hitting her. “It’s disregard for human life.”
Sheriff’s spokesman Sgt. Shaun Hampton addressed collision early Sunday, but failed to explain why the deputy hit the protester or left the scene.
Before the crash, Hampton said “vandals” surrounded the vehicles and began “pounding and kicking” the two SUVs. The deputy behind the wheel of the vehicle that hit Cleveland hit her was “traveling at slow speeds.”
He blamed raucous protesters for the damage to the vehicle.
“The Sheriff’s Department vehicle sustained scratches, dents, and a shattered rear window,” Hampton said in a statement. “The damage to the vehicle was not a result of the collision involving the pedestrian but was caused by vandals in the crowd.”
The sheriff’s department will conduct an internal review, while the state police will investigate the crash, Hampton added.
The crash sent some members of the same protest marching past a sheriff’s department building, where a police helicopter hovered overhead and told demonstrators to leave or risk arrest. The protest ended shortly after midnight, after spanning more than five hours.