SANTA ROSA, Calif. -- An incident between a motorist and protesters in Northern California's Sonoma County Saturday night has sparked a police investigation and claims on both sides that they were victims of an unprovoked attack.
Alea Sanders says the otherwise peaceful Black Lives Matter demonstration march she organized in Santa Rosa nearly turned deadly when a white SUV suddenly sped through the crowd as dozens of people marched down the middle of Sonoma Avenue.
"At that point, my only concern was, 'Is anybody dead?' because what I saw was a lot of things flying through the air and people screaming," Sanders said. "I mean it was traumatic. I mean there were children in the crowd."
Sanders says two protesters suffered minor injuries as they dove out of the way of the car, an SUV Santa Rosa police say was driven by a nurse who had just finished her shift at a local hospital.
The driver told investigators she only drove through the marchers after she claimed they began throwing things, including a skateboard and a bike, at her SUV.
"From what she reported, she became scared, panicked and so she tried to get through the crowd and out of there as quickly as possible and then pulled over," said Lt. Jeneane Kucker. Then a subject on a bicycle who had given chase punched her through her open window."
Police released photos of the reported damage to the SUV, including a broken mirror and smashed windshield.
But demonstrators told police, the car was only damaged as a reaction, after it sped through their group.
"First and foremost, I want justice served," said Sanders. "I want her arrested. I want her charged with attempted murder because that's what that was."
"It's a difficult situation and we're trying to sort it out and investigate it as best we can," said Cooker.
The incident will be turned over to the department's violent crimes division for further investigation. Anyone with information is asked to contact Santa Rosa police at (707) 528-5222.