SACRAMENTO (CBS13) – Attorney Guy Danilowitz was at the center of the chaos that broke out Saturday night as Wanda Cleveland, a protestor, was knocked to the ground by a Sacramento County sheriff’s vehicle.
This video was recorded by Danilowitz on his cell phone. He and a group of attorneys from the National Lawyers Guild were at Saturday night’s protest to monitor police behavior.
Danilowitz says the incident with Cleveland was troubling.
“She put her hand out making a stop sign like a jaywalker would do, it looked like she was trying to get out of the way, and it looked like the cop car accelerated at a rapid rate of speed and struck her violently,” Danilowitz said.
Danilowitz and his group are now launching their own investigation.
While California Highway Patrol and the Sacramento County Sheriff’s Department aren’t releasing details of what led up to the collision, criminal defense attorney Justin Ward says there could be a case.
“He either saw her or felt her hitting the car,” Ward said. “It’s difficult for me to believe he didn’t see her. I don’t think that’s going to be a reasonable defense.”
Ward says it’s possible the deputy could face criminal charges for hitting and injuring Cleveland.
“I didn’t see anybody with weapons, with a gun pointed at the officer,” Ward said.
The sheriff’s department says one of the deputy’s windows was smashed by a group of angry protestors.
The department couldn’t say whether it happened before or after the collision.
Ward says the timing of the attack on the deputy’s SUV could determine whether that deputy was in the wrong or simply fleeing from danger.
“His defense is going to be ‘I didn’t know I hit her’ or he’s going to say he was in fear for his life,” Ward said.
We reached out to Cleveland for comment but have not heard back.
A close friend says she wants privacy and is seeking legal action against the Sacramento County Sheriff’s Department.
Legal observers say they reported the incident to CHP. They say the officers threatened to place them under arrest.