A man who has spent years training San Jose police about implicit bias and procedural justice has been severely injured during a protest against police brutality. ABC 7 reports that Derrick Sanderlin was hit by a riot gun in a protest last week, and he had been working with the San Jose police chief for three years. Due to his latest experience, however, he's started to doubt whether his work did much good for the police force.
During a protest in San Jose, protesters began to target a Mustang that had a license plate frame that read, "Blue Lives Matter." While the owner of the car has since claimed he had the plate frame to avoid speeding tickets, one protester smashed the window of the car with a skateboard. Sanderlin says he stepped in to try and de-escalate the situation to help the driver get to safety, hoping to keep the protests peaceful. When he later made his way to the San Jose City Hall, he noticed police shooting rubber bullets at demonstrators. Sanderlin said that officers were shooting young women at close range, prompting him to walk over with his hands up.
"I really just couldn't watch it anymore," he explained. "And just kind of made like a parallel walkover, put my hands up, and just stood in the line of fire and asked them to please not do this." Despite his plea, officers trained their riot guns on him and opened fire. He made no motions that could be perceived as aggressive, and yet one of the multiple rubber bullets fired in his direction hit him in the groin.
"I pause for a moment like maybe this isn't, maybe this doesn't hurt and falling afterwards is like the most painful experience," he continued. Due to the impact, he had to have emergency surgery for a rupture, and now doctors have said he might not be able to have children with Cayla, his wife of four years. "The doctor had to let me know before the operation that there's no way of fully telling until you try to have for kids," he said.
Due to the injuries he sustained, the couple has retained an attorney, and they are set to file a claim against the city of San Jose and its police department. "They were aiming for a body part that is prohibited when using those types of riot guns," their attorney Sarah Marinho said. "You're not meant to aim at the groin or the head ever." Officer Jared Yeun, one of the officers involved in the incident, has been put on desk duty following Sanderlin's injuries.
"The way that the way that they've treated people out there has over the weekend has been really heartbreaking because the chief is like a good person, who's really trying to do the right thing," he added. Chief Eddie Garcia says that an investigation into the incident is underway and that the department will re-evaluate when officers can fire rubber bullets at protesters.