UPDATE: Sacramento County Sheriff Scott Jones blamed "paid protesters" after his deputy hit a woman demonstrating against the killing of Stephon Clark.
Rather than acknowledging the indefensible action of his deputy who ran his vehicle into a protester at a vigil for Clark and then drove away, Jones invoked an unsubstantiated conspiracy theory that slanders liberal activists as paid protesters.
"Unfortunately at many protests that have developed to this scope, there are professional protesters and professional instigators that infiltrate the protests for their own purposes as well as participants from out of the region that inflame and antagonize the event. The results oftentimes are actions that cause undue scrutiny on the protesters' cause, their methods, message and actions—and law enforcement," Jones said. He continued "that is what happened here, which culminated in many vehicles being struck, objects being thrown, and fires being started."
Jones also said the deputy was likely unaware he had hit the protester.
Jones' attempt to blame protesters and shirk police responsibility for the hit-and-run displays a repulsive detachment or disregard for public outrage after Clark's killing. Rather than acknowledge the misconduct of his officer, Jones blames the victim of the attack and tries to invalidate anger at Clark's unjustified death.
Sacramento County Sheriff’s Department’s vehicle reportedly hit a woman attending a vigil for Stephon Clark, an unarmed black man who was shot by police when they mistook him for carrying a gun.
The incident which took place on Florin Road, Sacramento was captured on camera. In the video, the sheriff can be heard shouting, “back away from my vehicle.”
As people continue to walk past the SUV, the sheriff knocked down a 61-year-old grandmother, Wanda Cleveland, who was holding a placard. The car hit her on her right leg and as she landed on the ground she hit her head, shoulder and head.
She lay immobile on the ground and moments later an ambulance arrived to take her to the hospital.
According to witnesses, after hitting the woman the sheriff drove off and didn’t stay back to see if the woman needed help.
“I heard wheels spin. And then I saw her body flung to the curb. The vehicle sped off and some protesters went after them,” said witness Tifanei Ressl-Moyer.
The vigil was organized to protest the police shooting of 22-year-old Clark who was fatally shot by cops on March 18. They mistook him for carrying a gun but he was just carrying a mobile. He was shot in his own backyard, with officers firing 20 rounds at the unarmed man.
Chilling footage of the incident was later released that showed Clark running around his neighborhood, hopping fences, while the two officers chased him. He stopped running after reaching his own home where he lived with his grandparents and two sons.
That is when the police officers yelled at him to show his hands. “Gun! Gun! Gun!” the officers can be heard shouting before shooting at the African- American man, only to later discover he was unarmed.
Clark’s autopsy was released that showed he was shot six times in the back, once in the side and once in the leg. His death was the most recent in a string of fatal shootings of black men by police that have triggered protests across the United States and fueled a national debate about bias in the American criminal justice system.
Banner / Thumbnail : Reuters, Bob Strong