A teenager who was stopped by Sacramento police for not having a light on his bicycle ended up being hit by a cop car going 27 mph in dramatic video released by the department Friday. The incident, which has already prompted the department to promise to improve its training, is earning more criticism for a department under fire for the shooting death of Stephon Clark earlier this year.
The collision happened on July 22 when the 16-year-old was pulled over by an officer while riding his bike because he did not have a light on it. It happened at about 10 p.m. in the city’s Del Paso Heights neighborhood in northeast Sacramento.
The video showed the officer engaging in conversation with the teen before he takes off running. The officer who was speaking to the cyclist chased him on foot, according to police, while a second police SUV was called to assist in the pursuit.
In the video, the officer driving the SUV was seen turning left suddenly — as the teen is running down the sidewalk — and slamming into him at 27 mph, according to the preliminary information on the dash cam released by the Sacramento Police Department. The video showed the teen being tossed into the air by the impact.
The police officer immediately exited the vehicle and handcuffed the teenager, who can be heard swearing and then shouting repeatedly, “I’m sorry.”
The suspect suffered only minor injuries in the collision.
“Clearly, this collision could have been tragic,” Sacramento Police Chief Daniel Hahn said in a statement. “I am grateful the young man was not more seriously injured and that no one else was injured. Our training is designed to prevent this sort of thing from happening. We are going to make sure our training — and the officer’s adherence to that training — is as solid as it can be.”‘
The police department blamed the accident on understeer, using a diagram to show how the vehicle did not turn as the officer intended and instead slammed into the fleeing teenager.
“This is something that, you know what I mean, shouldn’t have took place,” Lavar Washington, a family member of the injured teenager who also witnessed the collision, told Sacramento ABC affiliate KXTV.
It took 10 minutes for the ambulance to arrive to treat him, with Sacramento Police Department Det. James Allen saying, “There was a short delay in the response in the medical aid due to the officers having to facilitate the safe ingress of medical personnel and the egress with the suspect. This delay was due to officers having to maintain scene security due to a large crowd that had gathered.”
Bystanders in the neighborhood can almost immediately be seen and heard shouting at the officers and yelling, “Why did you hit him?” In body camera footage, someone can be heard shouting, “Now I see why y’all get killed.”
The teenager was given a citation for resisting arrest once released from the hospital two hours after the accident, police said.
“Ultimately the investigation has shown that the collision was unintended,” Allen said in video released by the department. “Due to the speed that the turn was initiated at, the officer lost control of the patrol vehicle and began to understeer. The officer did not regain control of the vehicle until moments before, or at the time the patrol vehicle came to a stop after the collision had already occurred.”
Police relations with the community in Sacramento are especially poor after the police shooting of Clark, who was killed on March 18 in his grandmother’s backyard after police said they believed his cellphone was a gun. The death triggered widespread protests in the city and even the delay of a Sacramento Kings NBA game after protesters blocked entrances. Protesters also gathered 100,000 signatures, which they submitted to the Sacramento District Attorney’s Office calling for the officers to be criminally charged.
The Sacramento County coroner’s office determined Clark was struck seven times, while a private autopsy requested by the family said he was struck eight times.
The two police officers have not been charged and returned to work on April 20.