Police Abuse

Sacramento Sheriff's Dept. SUV Knocks Down Police Abuse Protester, Then Drives Off

This is not how you rebuild those community ties.

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Sacramento protesters
Bob Strong/REUTERS/Newscom

The Sacramento Sheriff's Department poured gasoline on a fire when one of its cruisers struck a 61-year-old protestor Saturday night and then drove off.

The woman, identified as Wanda Cleveland, was among the protestors rallying in response to the Sacramento Police's fatal shooting of Stephon Clark, 22, while police were investigating a 911 call about some car break-ins.

The hit-and-run was captured on video from several angles (watch here and here). Cleveland was taken to a local hospital, treated for injuries, and released.

Cleveland is apparently a regular at Sacramento City Council meetings, according to the Los Angeles Times, and she claims she was previously arrested for "allegedly touching a police officer" three years ago. So she's understandably not thrilled to have a cop hit her with an SUV and then drive off.

The California Highway Patrol is investigating what happened. The response from the sheriff's department emphasizes that the protestors were "yelling and pounding and kicking the vehicles' exterior" and notes that they had caused damage to the SUV. That sort of knee-jerk defense is intended to make it sound as though the deputies were in danger or thought they were in danger to justify their reaction. The videos do not show Cleveland engaging in any sort of vandalism. She's standing several feet in front of the SUV when it accelerates toward her.

Of course, civilians do not get to use the same defense if they panic while feeling threatened by police. Clark was shot by cops after fleeing from them into his own backyard and hiding on a patio. Police originally claimed that he approached them holding what they thought was a gun. It turned out to be a phone. He wasn't armed, and a private autopsy ordered by the family shows he was struck in the back and the side.

The Washington Post notes that California state law requires drivers to stop at the scene of an accident and to help arrange for medical attention if needed. Another person on the scene told the Post he attempted to flag down a California Highway Patrol officer to tell him what happened; he claims the officer threatened to arrest him.

Cleveland shouldn't hold her breath waiting to find out the results of the CHP's investigation of whoever struck her. She might not even learn the driver's name. California has very strong laws that protect police from disclosure of discipline for any sort of misconduct, the public bedamned.

In the meantime, activism against police abuse in Sacramento is getting tied up with a bunch of other grievances from citizens in minority neighborhoods who are not happy about how the city spends its money—on police and subsidized sports arenas. A Sacramento Bee editorial complains about the city's budget as a "bastion of inequity." Voters in Sacramento approved a tax hike in 2012 that's now being spent mostly on public safety personnel costs, with only a small amount going to community services. That's what happens with these tax hikes. The money largely goes to the most powerful, entrenched parts of city government (and to try to stop city pension bombs from exploding).

Nothing in this Sacramento Bee editorial addresses the actual problem—police accountability. Instead, the editorial literally demands that the city spend even more money. That has absolutely nothing to do with the problem at hand, and it dilutes efforts to rein in police misconduct. We've seen this before, with people attempting to attach their own progressive pet projects to the Black Lives Matter movement.

If Sacramento citizens are unable to hold police responsible for killing an unarmed man, it's absurd to think they have enough power to keep the cops from siphoning off the lion's share of any tax increase or spending proposal. Instead there will be a round of pet projects to keep certain loud interests within these communities satisfied—and very little will change when it comes to police accountability.

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  1. Most appropriate article ever to be posted in Reason’s “HIt and Run” blog.

    1. You must have missed the multi-part feature about Mike Rigg’s sexual escapades.

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  2. The Sacramento Sheriff’s Department poured gasoline on a fire when one of its cruisers one of its deputies struck a 61-year-old protestor Saturday night and then drove off.

    FTFY. Always bothers me when these reports are written as if these evil cars are driving themselves around looking for people to run over (Uber in Arizona notwithstanding). Also always bothers me when cops pull this kind of shit.

  3. To be fair, the police wagon was going about 5mph.

  4. At least he didn’t shoot anyone. See? Progress! /sarc

  5. I guess Sacramento didn’t tear down its statues of Confederate generals fast enough.

  6. Wasn’t the guy who hit protestors with his vehicle in Charlottesville something something?

    I don’t see any updates on that case since December 2017. He must have been a socialist after all.

    1. Is “something something” supposed to be code for “charged with first-degree murder”?

      1. More like racist. or Nazi. or something.

        These cases are national news for some reason and then fall off the media radar completely.

  7. I’m surprised she wasn’t beaten and arrested for assaulting a police vehicle.

    1. I am sure she will get charged for damaging police property after they have to fix the old-lady-shaped dent in the fender.

    2. The vehicle likely did fear for its life

      1. That would be “vehicular homicide”

  8. I am as concerned about police misconduct but this is ridiculous. It sounds like an angry mob was attacking the SUV. I don’t blame the driver for not stopping and getting out of the vehicle after bumping one of these protesters. Reason needs to have more balance on this issue. There needs to be better accountability regarding police conduct but we also need to realize that most violent interactions with police are not the fault of police. And we need to realize that most “protests” of possible police misconduct are ill-informed and attacks on legitimate police actions. The real scandal is why these violent protesters attacking the SUV weren’t all arrested. What about peaceful protest? I’m all for that.

    And maybe the bigger scandal is why we focus on the fringe problem of police misconduct while ignoring the insane levels of violence in our inner cities.

    1. Yeah reminds me of that kid at that college last year who claimed he was run over the dean or somebody. The guy was driving like 3 mph and the people were blocking a public road.

    2. You claim to want “balance” yet simultaneously declare that police misconduct to be a “fringe problem.”

      1. You must be unable to understand numbers. Compared to the larger problem of inner city violence, it is a fringe problem. There was about 17,250 murders and manslaughters in the US in 2017 and less than 1000 people killed by police. And less you are some wingnut, you have to assume that the vast majority of those killed by police were killed justifiably. So it’s probably about 100 to 1 or greater a problem.

        1. That’s a big assumption, since you just pulled it out of your ass how many are justified killings.

          But also, there’s a big difference between the problem of independent actors and non-governmental agents acting violently, and the armed wing of the state doing it. When we’re talking about things the government should be worried about, they’re active enactment of a police state is relevant.

        2. Hmm… if 6% of the population were police then this would show that you have an equal probability of being killed by police as by non-police. I think the police actually make up a smaller proportion of the population, and (come to think of it) I would hope that they would actually be less inclined to kill people. (Fact of the day: n most countries it is quite rare for the police to kill civilians, even those who have knives or do threatening thngs like running away…)

    3. We need to realize no such thing.

    4. If only there were video showing how the protesters were behaving or something …

      1. I watched the video. The police SUV was driving at a slow rate of speed in a line of police cars and somehow the idiot protester got in front of the vehicle. It’s the fault of the idiot protester. Only a complete idiot would have gotten in front of the vehicle in that situation. And people were kicking and hitting the police vehicles. That had to be distracting to the driver. Unfortunately, some slimy lawyer will make money off this for the idiot protester.

        You’d have to be seriously biased against police to fault them for something like this.

        1. Yet when cops jump in front of a vehicle he automatically fear for his life and is justified in emptying his magazine into the driver.

          1. That is typical behavior of the police. It should be pointed out by the media, when that happens. I think both people should be held responsible for their own actions. The cops are making excuses, to justify their actions of getting trigger happy! This protester had a great fall…(;-P…It was barely caught on the video that I saw and that was at the exact time of the impact. She could be seen walking towards the front of the car, as to intentionally block it, just before the camera moved forward to follow the leading vehicle. The lady’s fall ranks right up there with the best sports injury videos! It was intentional. She wasted the money, used to transport her in an ambulance, for nothing injuries! She should have just got up and shook it off. But, she would not be able to sue, for her intentionally moving in front of a moving police vehicle, signalling that they were moving forward. No pity from me!

  9. Sure looks like assault with a deadly weapon to me.

      1. And a promotion to a desk job.

  10. The Washington Post notes that California state law requires drivers to stop at the scene of an accident and to help arrange for medical attention if needed.

    Not applicable.

    1. It was no accident.

  11. “I’m on a mission now. I will never allow a cop to touch me again,” she said before the accident.

    She got her wish. No hands-on aid was rendered. Too bad she didn’t expand her moratorium on physical contact to include police bumpers.

  12. Had the situation been reversed the cop could have jumped onto the hood and emptied four magazines into the driver. And nothing else would have happened.

    1. But there’s no double standard. None at all.

  13. He was aiming at a dog.

  14. Let us remember the words of Kamala Harris.

    “Local law enforcement must be able to use their discretion to determine who can carry a concealed weapon.”

  15. Too bad it didn’t happen in North Carolina. The cop would be free and clear.

    http://www.charlottestories.co…..ock-roads/

  16. When journalists say “went to hospital … treated for injuries” that translates to “we don’t have a clue whether anybody was injured or not.”

    The videos make quite clear what was taking place. Another protester had already noticed the driver intended to move through the crowd. The one who tapped the right front quaterpanel with her extended forearm moved in front of the car after the other protester moved out of the way. She thrust her pelvis away from the car while it was at least 5 feet from her, then had time to take another step and move out of the path of the car, extending her forearm while she moved diagonally toward the passengers side of the slowly moving vehicle. By the time it crossed the path she had assumed, she was out of the way, more to the passengers side than in front of the patrol vehcile.Her extended forearm

    It appeared she was attempting to blockade the vehicle and decided it was a bad idea. It appeared the officer was moving through the crowd as a slow but deliberate pace intended to discourage blockade tactics but ready to stop if forward movement was a threat to a pedestrian. The protesters fall, deliberate or accidental, after pushing off the hood of the car with an extended arm was not convincing. The fall was played with all the grandious flair of a professional wrestler. The screams of a bystander “Oh my GOD!” emphasized that some protesters were intent on confrontation and exageration.

    1. Good evaluation!

    2. The screams of a bystander “Oh my GOD!” emphasized that some protesters were intent on confrontation and exageration.

      “GUN, Gun GUN!!!!!”


  17. Of course, civilians do not get to use the same defense if they panic while feeling threatened by police.

    Mr. Shackford, you are comparing apples and kiwis. Civilians do have a similar legal defense when faced with a mob.

    http://www.bemidjipioneer.com/…..d-hit-girl

    MINNEAPOLIS ? The Hennepin County attorney’s office has declined to file criminal charges against a St. Paul man whose car struck a teen during a protest in Minneapolis in November.

    “After reviewing all of the facts from the police investigation, prosecutors determined that the actions Mr. (Jeffrey) Rice took did not reflect intent or actions that constitute a crime that could be charged,” the attorney’s office said in a statement Thursday.

    Jeffrey Patrick Rice reportedly told police after the Nov. 25 incident that his vehicle had been damaged by a large group of people while he was trying to flee a mob, according to the initial police report. The crowd, gathered near Lake Street and Minnehaha Avenue, was protesting a grand jury decision not to charge a white Ferguson, Mo., police officer in the August shooting death of Michael Brown, a young unarmed black man.

  18. The police kill more unarmed people each year than are killed in school shootings. It’s the police — the “well-regulated militia” — who need gun control, not the rest of us.

    References here and here.

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