SACRAMENTO(CBS13) – Sacramento Police Chief Daniel Hahn is facing his first big controversy since taking charge of the department.
Thousands of people rushed the freeway Thursday in protest over the deadly shooting of an unarmed black Sacramento man Stephon Clark.
“We were expecting a protest, but we didn’t expect it to go on the freeway or anything like that,” said Chief Hahn.
The protest happened during the height of rush hour, and police kept their distance and chose to closely monitor as protestors to make sure no one got hurt.
“Walking on the freeway is a very dangerous thing,” he said. “We know frustrations are high, we know tempers are high, and we don’t want to add anything to that.”
They were protesting the death of 22-year-old Stephon Clark who was shot by two officers Sunday after reportedly running from police as they responded to burglary calls.
Protesters held signs and managed to block the entire interstate for more than an hour. Eventually, officials were able to draw the crowds back onto city’s streets.
From there, they marched to the Golden 1 Center. Demonstrators blocked the door, which kept fans out and delayed the Kings game.
Officers were prepared with riot gear and pepper ball guns but chose not to engage with less lethal force.
“Emotions are high and they have been for the past several days, so really we do these protests in a manner…to make sure nobody gets hurt,” Hahn said.
The death of Clark sparked frustrations among the city and Chief Hahn said he understands, but it’s also far from over.
“We need to continue to gather the facts and do a thorough investigation and not only see what we know and determine about this specific incident but what we can learn from this to make sure that we continue to improve moving forward and don’t have further incidents like this,” he said.
Hahn, who is Sacramento’s first African American Chief, was hired in part to address concerns of excessive force against minorities.
This officer-involved shooting is his first big test.
“Any time this city is hurting I’m hurting. It’s no different now than it was when I was sworn in, my goal is to make sure that we are a healthy community that trusts each other and that we move forward in a healthy manner and continue to get better,” he said.
Fortunately, the protest ended peacefully and without any arrests.
(Editor’s note: A previous version of this story incorrectly stated that Clark was 23 years old.)