A video has seemingly captured deputies with the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department sitting in a patrol car as a student protester’s foot was apparently trapped under a tire.
Devin Wege, 17, told Newsweek that a deputy intentionally ran over his foot while he was taking part in a protest march in Lancaster, California, on February 9, calling for the Antelope Valley Union High School District to cancel its contract with the sheriff’s department.
The 15-second clip shows Wege’s foot trapped under a car tire, as two deputies sit calmly inside the vehicle. Newsweek has not been able to verify the events leading up to the incident.
Wege, a transgender student at Lancaster High School, was among dozens who gathered for a rally outside Antelope Valley High School, after a complaint was filed accusing the school district of failing to account to millions of dollars in state funds that were earmarked for students with high needs.
“We were passing out flyers about the administrative complaint and for a survey students could do,” he said. “After we had gathered a small crowd of people and police began to arrive, we began to march.”
During the march, Wege said he handed out flyers to people, including to officers in stopped police vehicles. He said he approached two officers in a vehicle on Lancaster Boulevard to offer them a flyer.
“I got closer to the car, pointing at the flyers I held, attempting to offer a flyer to the pair of sheriffs. Instead of a yes or no, next thing I knew the cop on the driver’s side drove onto my foot very slowly,” he said.
Hal Steinberg, who captured the video, told Newsweek that a deputy in one of several patrol cars that began following the march had declared it an unlawful assembly within minutes.
He approached the scene on Lancaster Boulevard after hearing a commotion and people screaming.
“I walked over and saw Devin’s foot crushed underneath the tire of the car,” Steinberg said, adding the deputies inside the vehicle were “not concerned.”
Wege said the deputy in the driver’s seat got out the vehicle as he tried in vain to dislodge his foot. “My efforts are unsuccessful, and when I looked up from my foot and to the right of me, I saw a tall man in a tan uniform with a mustache who was yelling at me to take my flyers and go,” he said. “I told him to get off my foot and I will go.”
The deputy “stood there a moment looking at me right before going back in the car and getting off my foot.”
A spokesperson for the LASD told Newsweek: “This incident is now being investigated.”
Amanda Mock, Wege’s mother, said the deputies involved in the incident need to be held accountable.
“Not only did he get his foot run over (or you could say parked on), but the sheriff also got out of the car and yelled at him for expressing his freedom of speech in a peaceful way,” she told Newsweek.
“They didn’t stop to see if he needed care, they didn’t provide him with medical attention.”
She added: “I wish I could say I was in shock when I found out that he was injured by the local Sheriff. The sad reality is our children don’t want their presence on campus for a reason.”
Christian Green, Cancel the Contract Antelope Valley’s campaign co-ordinator, said: “What happened to Devin is an outrage. This is a mere example of how the sheriffs treat our children, have for decades, and why they should not be in our schools.
“Sheriffs continue to criminalize and penalize students for speaking out for justice in our communities causing deep-rooted trauma and fear.”
Wege was taken to hospital by other people at the march and his foot is now in a medical boot.
He described the pain like his foot is “on fire while sore after a hard workout” and “being constantly poked by a needle.”
“He’s been in a lot of pain, every single day,” his mother added. “His life as a typical teenager is impacted, he was planning on going in to take his driver’s test and get his license and that has to wait now. He can’t go out to see his friends, because he needs to rest and keep his foot elevated. He will make a full recovery but the last half of his senior year won’t be the same.”
Mock, a single mother, has set up a GoFundMe page to help cover the cost of medical and legal expenses. Some of the funds raised will be donated to charity, according to a post on the page.