Sacramento, CA – An investigation determined that a protester is at fault for getting hit by a patrol car on March 31.
The report on the collision, completed by California Highway Patrol, says Wanda Cleveland walked into the path of the patrol car while carrying a protest sign and tried to stop the vehicle, according to The Sacramento Bee.
Cleveland is now suing the department, with her attorney saying, “Her sign was made out of paper. His car was made out of steel.”
The collision occurred with a Sacramento County Sheriff’s Department (SCSD) vehicle after a group of "protesters" surrounded the deputies’ vehicles, and started pounding on the vehicles.
The riotous crowd converged on an intersection in South Sacramento, in the neighborhood where Stephon Clark was shot.
Clark was a 22-year-old burglar who was fatally shot by police after shattering the window of an elderly man’s home before pointing an object towards officers that was later determined to be a cell phone, on Mar. 18.
The protest occurred at approximately 8:40 p.m., as the protesters walked among vehicles in the roadway, blocking traffic, The Sacramento Bee reported.
According to SCSD Sergeant Shaun Hampton, the hoard was also yelling at the deputies, and kicking their patrol cars.
At one point, approximately three dozen protesters surrounded a patrol car, attacked it.
“The crowd increasingly became more hostile toward the two deputies,” the CHP report said. “The patrol vehicles began to sustain all types of vandalism ranging from kicks, punches, and objects being thrown at all sides of their vehicles.
“Ford # 549 sustained the brunt of the vandalism with dents to the right and left quarter panels, a crushed in driver side door, a dent and gouge to the passenger door, and a shattered rear hatch window," the report said. "Both Trejo and Rivera began to fear for their personal safety as the vandals continued to damage their vehicles. Rivera made notification to dispatch requesting backup, as he feared that he was being overrun by protestors.”
Cellphone footage of the scene showed two SCSD SUVs attempting to navigate through the chaos, with their emergency lights activated. Sirens could also be heard throughout the video.
Using a loudspeaker, deputies repeatedly told the protesters to back away from the patrol vehicles. A SCSD SUV began to move forward, as a woman with a sign stepped in front of the vehicle, and held her arm out towards it.
The protester, later identified as Wanda Cleveland, moved towards the front passenger side of a patrol vehicle as it continued to inch forward, and was clipped by the SUV’s bumper as it moved past her, The Sacramento Bee reported.
Cleveland fell to the ground as the SCSD vehicles drove away from the area. Fire personnel responded and she was transported to a local medical facility.
She was released after being treated for bruises to the back of her head, and to her arm. She now claims that she has $43,000 in medical bills from the incident.
Cleveland later claimed that she was walking to the curb when the collision occurred. Although a deputy in one patrol vehicle told the crowd to move away, Cleveland argued that the deputy driving the vehicle that struck her never issued a command for her to move, The Sacramento Bee reported.
“If I did that I’d be charged," Cleveland complained. "It's disregard for human life."
However, the CHP report refutes her claims.
“Cleveland left her location of safety and began to walk into the # 3 lane purposely placing herself in harm’s way by walking directly in front of and towards Ford # 549; failing to yield the right-of-way to an emergency vehicle as it was already moving with full code-3 emergency lights activated,” the report said. “Cleveland attempted to stop Ford # 549 by placing her hand up as an indication to stop."
“Trejo’s attention was drawn to the left as his vehicle began being attacked aggressively. Trejo never saw Cleveland walk out in front of his patrol vehicle," the report continued. "Trejo continued moving forward in Ford # 549, subsequently contacting Cleveland with the right front of Ford # 549. Cleveland rolled off Ford # 549, striking the roadway.”
“As Ford # 549 continued moving forward, many people began yelling and continuing to assault his vehicle to the point of shattering the rear hatch window,” the report noted. “Fearing for his safety from the aggressive crowd, Trejo left the scene in Ford # 549. Trejo immediately drove back to his station, watched his in-car video recording and reported the incident to his immediate supervisor, Sergeant Vettel.”
After the collision, a small group of protesters headed towards a nearby SCSD station, where they were met by a line of officers.
“Hit and run,” the group began to chant, according to The Sacramento Bee.
Officers in a police helicopter hovering above ordered the crowd to disperse, and the group ultimately returned to the original protest location, the New York Daily News reported.
The gathering of approximately 100 protesters managed to shut down all traffic in the area after the collision, according to The Sacramento Bee.
The night of the collision, CHP investigators attempted to contact Cleveland at home for her statement.
“I shined my flashlight at the front door and window," the investigating officer noted. "A female occupant opened the door yelling, I informed Cleveland who I was and that I was there to gather her statement regarding this incident. She became very hostile toward me and was not happy with the time of day I arrived at her home.”
CHP then tried to arrange a meeting for the next month before Cleveland finally met them with her attorney.
Cleveland's attorney said that the CHP report would not affect the lawsuit against the sheriff's department.
You can see videos from the collision scene below (multiple videos, scroll for more.):