Easter Sunday calm in Sacramento after tense night when sheriff's SUV hit activist at Stephon Clark vigil


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 Easter Sunday calm in Sacramento after tense night when sheriff's SUV hit activist at Stephon Clark vigil

Former NBA player Matt Barnes holds Cairo, one of the sons of police shooting victim Stephon Clark, as he speaks at a rally aimed at ensuring Clark's memory and calling for police reform, Saturday, March 31, 2018, in Sacramento, Calif. The gathering comes nearly two weeks after Clark, who was unarmed, was shot and killed by two Sacramento police officers. Barnes, a Sacramento native, who organized the event, announced he was starting a college scholarship fund for Clark's two sons and the children of parents killed by police nationwide. At left, the Rev. Shane Harris holds Clark's other son, Aiden. (AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli)

SAN FRANCISCO — Easter Sunday dawned calm in Sacramento after a tense interaction Saturday evening when a sheriff's SUV hit a protester at a peaceful vigil for Stephon Clark, an unarmed black man who was killed by police on March 18.

Wanda Cleveland was in a group of protesters at a vigil south of the city of Sacramento in an area of unincorporated Sacramento County at 8:40 Saturday night.

Sacramento County Sheriffs deputies driving two marked patrol cars were surrounded by a group of protesters who “began yelling while pounding and kicking the vehicles exterior,” according to a statement by Sheriffs Office spokesman Sgt. Shaun Hampton. 

One of the patrol cars sounded the siren four times, then an officer used the cars loudspeaker to say, “Back away from my vehicle.” He then drove away from the crowd at a slow pace, footage aired by ABC10, a local Sacramento station shows.

The second patrol car drove behind the first and struck Cleveland, a protester who was walking across the street, knocking her to the ground. The patrol car left the scene.

Sacramento Metro Fire Department personnel responded and took Cleveland to Kaiser Permanente South Sacramento Medical Center where she was treated for bruises on her arm and the back of her head, the Sacramento Bee reported.

Cleveland was described by the Bee as a regular at Sacramento City Council meetings. At the hospital she told the paper that she began walking to the curb after the first patrol car made the request to move, but that the second patrol car made no request.

"He never even stopped. It was a hit and run. If I did that Id be charged," she said.

During the incident, the patrol vehicle “sustained scratches, dents, and a shattered rear window. The damage to the vehicle was not a result of the collision involving the pedestrian but was caused by vandals in the crowd,” Hampton said in a statement.

An internal review is being conducted by the County Sheriffs Department. The California Highway Patrol is also investigating the collision, the Sheriff's Department said.

After the incident about 150 protesters stayed in the intersection, shutting down traffic in all directions, video footage shows. A small group walked to a nearby Sacramento County Sheriff's Department station but stopped well away from it, chanting "hit and run."

A helicopter overhead ordered them to leave or be arrested and they returned to the main protest. 

The incident occurred as tensions were heightened in Sacramento following the release Friday of an independent autopsy report by Clark's family, which found that he had been shot eight times, most of the bullets hitting him in the back. Clark was 22 when he died.

A rally about the shooting on Saturday featured retired Sacramento Kings basketball player Matt Barnes.

Barnes has been supportive of the family and also attended Clark's funeral on Thursday, which attracted hundreds, including civil right activist Al Sharpton.

At the Saturday rally, Barnes called for change. 

"They killed Stephon Clark. They continue to kill us," he told the crowd, offering solutions, such as officers spending more time in the communities they patrol.

Multiple disruptive but peaceful rallies have been held in Sacramento since the shooting, but overall the city has stayed very calm.

Sacramento Mayor Darrell Steinberg told the The Sacramento Bee he hoped the community remained peaceful this weekend. 

By: USA TODAY

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