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Police vehicle strikes protester at Stephon Clark demonstration

A protester in Sacramento, California, was struck by a sheriff’s department vehicle Saturday night while demonstrating against last month’s fatal police shooting of Stephon Clark.

Witnesses told the Sacramento Bee that the police vehicle left the scene of the incident after striking a woman, who was identified as Wanda Cleveland. She was later picked up by fire department personnel and taken to a local hospital, police said. She sustained minor injuries.

“He never even stopped. It was a hit and run. If I did that I’d be charged,” Cleveland told the Sacramento Bee. “It’s disregard for human life.”

Stephon Clark, 22, was unarmed when he was shot eight times on March 18 in his grandmother’s backyard during a fatal encounter with two Sacramento police officers, who were responding to reports of break-ins. An independent autopsy commissioned by Clark’s family and released Friday showed the bullets struck him six times in the back, countering earlier police statements that he had been approaching the officers as they fired their weapons.

The Sacramento County Sheriff’s Department released a statement Sunday confirming the collision and stating that sheriff’s deputies were driving two marked police vehicles when they were surrounded by a group of protesters. More than 50 people attended the demonstration.

“As protesters approached both of the marked vehicles, they began yelling while pounding and kicking the vehicles’ exterior,” the statement read. “As one of the Sheriff’s Deputies was driving, a collision occurred involving the Sheriff’s patrol vehicle and a protester who was walking in the roadway. The collision occurred while the patrol vehicle was traveling at slow speeds.”

A video taken by a public defender for Sacramento County, Guy Danilowitz, and posted to his Twitter account shows a person crossing in front of a sheriff’s vehicle before being struck and falling to the pavement.

A deputy had ordered those around the vehicle to disperse several times before the collision took place.

The sheriff’s department said the incident occurred at 8:40 p.m. local time, and that the department 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,” the statement said.

Both the sheriff’s department and the California Highway Patrol are investigating the collision.

Clark’s death has sparked days of protests and calls for police reform.

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