A community already in upheaval following the police shooting of an unarmed black man earlier this month grew more divided in the wake of an incident Saturday night at a vigil for 22-year-old Stephon Clark.
According to CNN, authorities and demonstrators began to clash as an SUV driven by a Sacramento County sheriff’s deputy moved its way through the crowded street. What happened next soon became the subject of intense debate.
Eyewitnesses on the scene for the vigil claim the deputy was driving at a high rate of speed when he struck a female demonstrator.
One individual, who captured video on behalf of the National Lawyers Guild Legal Observers, said the driver “struck her violently,” causing her to fall to the ground.
“It was a fast acceleration, not the way you would move with people around,” said Guy Danilowitz.
— ABC10 (@ABC10) April 1, 2018
Such accounts contrast with a statement from authorities indicating that the SUV was slowly traveling through the crowd when protesters created a dangerous environment.
Officials say the woman was transported to an area hospital with minor injuries.
Prior to the impact, the deputy driving the SUV had reportedly been heard demanding via loudspeaker that protesters move away from the vehicle, according to NPR.
Sgt. Shaun Hampton told reporters that the “collision occurred while the patrol vehicle was traveling at slow speeds” and after demonstrators “began yelling while pounding and kicking the vehicle’s exterior.”
Following the incident, authorities say the vehicle bore signs of the attack, including dents, scratches and a shattered rear window.
Demonstrators including Tanya Faison, who founded the local chapter of Black Lives Matter, say the latest incident will only strengthen their resolve.
“This is their response to a community in outrage and pain,” she said. “This is just another glaring example of the reckless nature of Sacramento law enforcement.”
Faison went on to affirm that protesters “will continue to demand justice for not just Stephon, but for all lives that have been unjustly taken at the hands of law enforcement.”
[Featured image: video screenshot]