Dash cam video shows police car swerve, strike fleeing teen

A 16-year-old Sacramento boy reacts just before an officer strikes him with his patrol car July 22, 2018, in the city. The teen was fleeing from officers on foot when the patrol officer veered onto the sidewalk in what investigators have found to be an unintentional collision precipitated by speed.

Combined ShapeCaption
A 16-year-old Sacramento boy reacts just before an officer strikes him with his patrol car July 22, 2018, in the city. The teen was fleeing from officers on foot when the patrol officer veered onto the sidewalk in what investigators have found to be an unintentional collision precipitated by speed.

Dashboard camera footage released Friday by Sacramento police officials shows the moment an officer trying to intercept a 16-year-old boy in a foot pursuit swerved onto a sidewalk and struck the teen, hurling him onto the patrol car’s hood.

Police Chief Daniel Hahn said in a statement that the circumstances that led to the July 22 collision were not consistent with departmental training and the incident was "an unacceptable outcome."

"Clearly, this collision could have been tragic," Hahn said. "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."

Watch footage of a Sacramento police officer’s patrol car strike a 16-year-old boy July 22 as he fled from officers on foot. WARNING: Some of the images and language in the footage is graphic.  

In a video overview of the investigation conducted by the department’s Major Collision Investigation Unit, Detective James Allen explained that a two-officer patrol unit was driving west on Eleanor Avenue around 10 p.m. the night of the collision when they spotted the 16-year-old, whose name was not released due to his age, riding a bicycle on the sidewalk. The bike did not have the front-facing white headlamp required by law when riding after dark.

Allen’s explanation of events is punctuated throughout by dashboard and body camera footage from officers on the scene that night.

The officers stopped the cyclist and, as they talked to him, the officer behind the wheel recognized the boy from a previous interaction, Allen said in the video. When he asked the teen if he had any outstanding warrants, the boy tried to ride away.

The officer on the passenger side tried to grab the teen, but he pulled free and a foot pursuit commenced. The officers running after the boy radioed for backup, at which time a nearby patrol officer became involved.

The officer, who was driving east on Eleanor Avenue, accelerated as he passed the intersection with Rio Linda Boulevard, Allen said. As the running teen came into view of the dashboard camera, the speed recorded by the camera was 27 mph, two miles over the limit for the residential area.

The actual speed the officer was driving is still under investigation, according to Allen.

Watch Sacramento police Detective James Allen and Sgt. Vance Chandler talk about the July 22 incident in detail below. WARNING: Some of the dashboard and body camera footage contains graphic images and language.

“In an attempt to assist the officers in the foot pursuit in detaining the suspect, the officer made an abrupt left turn,” Allen said. “We can see from the body-worn camera footage that the steering wheel is turned all the way to the left. We can also see that hard braking was done from the in-car camera footage, as indicated by the braking indicator, or the ‘B’ that is displayed at the top left.”

Allen explained that the speed of the vehicle caused it to go into an understeer, or a loss of traction while a driver is attempting to make a turn. The result is the vehicle moving in a straighter line than the driver intended.

An understeer typically takes place when a vehicle enters a turn too fast, Allen said.

In the July 22 incident, it resulted in the officer striking the running teen. Footage from inside the vehicle showed the boy trying to get out of the way, but being hit by the left side of the patrol car’s hood.

The teen was flipped into the windshield, his legs in the air.

Combined ShapeCaption
A 16-year-old Sacramento boy is struck by a patrol car July 22, 2018, in the city. The teen was fleeing from officers on foot when the patrol officer veered onto the sidewalk in what investigators have found to be an unintentional collision precipitated by speed.

Credit: Screengrab from Sacramento Police Department dashboard camera footage

A 16-year-old Sacramento boy is struck by a patrol car July 22, 2018, in the city. The teen was fleeing from officers on foot when the patrol officer veered onto the sidewalk in what investigators have found to be an unintentional collision precipitated by speed.

Credit: Screengrab from Sacramento Police Department dashboard camera footage

Combined ShapeCaption
A 16-year-old Sacramento boy is struck by a patrol car July 22, 2018, in the city. The teen was fleeing from officers on foot when the patrol officer veered onto the sidewalk in what investigators have found to be an unintentional collision precipitated by speed.

Credit: Screengrab from Sacramento Police Department dashboard camera footage

Credit: Screengrab from Sacramento Police Department dashboard camera footage

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The patrol car struck a car parked in the nearest driveway before coming to rest in the yard of the home the driveway belonged to.

The officer got out of the car and approached the teen, who repeatedly screamed, “Oh (expletive)! I’m sorry! I’m sorry, man!” The officer told the boy to stay down as he handcuffed him.

As a cacophony of bystanders who heard the crash began screaming, including the teen’s aunt, the officer assessed the boy’s injuries.

“Where’s your injury?” he asked as the boy continued screaming and crying. “What hurts?”

Sacramento firefighters responded to the scene and took the teen to a hospital for treatment of non-life-threatening injuries. Allen said there was a brief delay in getting the suspect to the hospital because officers at the scene had to maintain control of the large number of upset bystanders.

After being treated for his injuries, the teen was issued a citation for resisting arrest, Allen said.

The boy's aunt, Maria Washington, spoke to CBS Sacramento the day after the incident.

"Whatever he did, he didn't deserve to get hit by a car and get flown 10 feet over another car," Washington told the news station.

ExploreClick here to listen to police radio audio and watch all the raw footage from Sacramento police officers’ dashboard and body cameras the night of July 22. WARNING: Some of the dashboard and body camera footage contains graphic images and language. 

“Ultimately, the investigation has shown that the collision was unintended,” Allen said. “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 just before or at the moment it came to a stop, Allen said.

The detective said the officer was driving at an unsafe speed for the turn.

The department continues to investigate the collision, said Sgt. Vance Chandler, a Sacramento Police Department spokesman.

“Even an unintended collision with a subject under these circumstances is not an acceptable outcome and is inconsistent with our policies and training,” Chandler said.

Chandler said department officials are reviewing policies and procedures to prevent similar incidents in the future.

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