Listen to the police radio traffic on night Stephon Clark protester got hit by sheriff’s SUV
Police dispatch audio from the confrontation Saturday night when a Sacramento sheriff's car struck a Stephon Clark activist shows deputies knew their cars were being hit as they passed through the crowd, but does not indicate whether the deputy knew he hit the protester.
The audio, obtained from the Broadcastify.com site that records law enforcement broadcasts, shows officers being warned of a large protest group on Florin Road.
"Most of them are in the middle of the median, but there are several on Florin in the eastbound and westbound lanes," a deputy radios in. "There was one subject that was trying to get them to move and not engage us."
Seconds later, a deputy radios in: "One of the protesters broke my rear window."
About 30 seconds later, a deputy calls in and says, "As I was driving away someone must have thrown something at my window."
There is no discussion of a woman being hit by a sheriff's cruiser until minutes later in the audio, when a dispatcher says calls are coming in about a woman – later identified as 61-year-old Sacramento activist Wanda Cleveland – being hit by a law enforcement vehicle.
"We're getting multiple calls of a female hit by a police car in the middle of the street who needs medical attention," the dispatcher says. "She was in the roadway and they surrounded an SSD patrol vehicle and smashed out one of their back windows."
The radio traffic continues with deputies saying they will need support from the Sheriff's Department helicopter because of the crowd, which was protesting the March 18 shooting death of Clark by Sacramento police officers.
Sacramento County Sheriff Scott Jones said Monday he didn't believe the deputy, who accelerated and drove away, knew he had struck a person but that he wasn't sure. The incident, which occurred at about 8:45 p.m., is under investigation by the California Highway Patrol.
Cleveland's lawyer, Mark Reichel, was incredulous at the suggestion that the deputy did not know he hit her.
"He knew he hit her," Reichel said Tuesday, as the city braced for another round of protests over Clark's death. "She was directly in front of his vehicle, directly in front of his eyesight when he hit the accelerator.
"It's therefore not possible. You look forward to drive, especially at night. She was in front of his vehicle, she's not to the side of his vehicle. He hit her, she flies up into the air. There were at least 50 people standing there. He's the only one who didn't see his car hit her."
Jones also said the two deputies who drove their vehicles through the crowd were not part of the protest detail that night.
"I think perhaps the only thing that could have been done differently was they might have avoided the area," he said Monday.
The protest that night was aimed at the Sheriff's Department because its helicopter was used to assist Sacramento police in chasing Clark after he had been reported as a possible car burglar. Clark was shot by officers in the backyard of his grandmother's Meadowview home, and police said they believed he had a gun.
The young black man was unarmed, police later said, and was found to be carrying only a cellphone.
A private autopsy paid for by the Clark family's legal team found that Clark was shot eight times, six of them in the back. Results released last Friday indicated Clark was facing the house with his left side to officers when they first shot him him in the left side of his body toward the back.
That bullet forced him to spin with his back to officers, and he was shot six times in the back, according to noted pathologist Dr. Bennet Omalu, who performed the autopsy for the family. An eighth shot hit him in the front of his thigh, most likely as he was falling or was down, Omalu said.
The shooting has sparked nationwide outrage and protests that are scheduled to continue this week. Clark's death also has spawned calls for new protocols on when police fire on suspects.