SAN JOSE, Calif. (KGO) -- A community activist, who has worked for years to promote understanding between San Jose police and the public, was seriously injured by a riot gun in the George Floyd protest one week ago.
He has now retained an attorney and spoke to the I-Team's Dan Noyes.
Derrick Sanderlin knows the San Jose police chief well and has worked with him for three years.
But tonight, he can't help questioning if they've made any progress at all.
When protesters shut down Highway 101 in San Jose last week over the killing of George Floyd, they targeted a blue Mustang.
The owner had a "Blue Lives Matter" license plate frame.
He later said it was not in support of police, but to avoid speeding tickets.
When a man with a skateboard smashed out his window, 27-year-old community activist Derrick Sanderlin stepped in to calm the situation and escort the driver to safety.
Sanderlin later made his way to San Jose City Hall. SKY7 was overhead to catch the confrontations with police, and ABC7 was on the ground.
Just across the street, Sanderlin saw police shooting rubber bullets at protesters, including young women at close range.
Officer Jared Yuen, who has already been placed on desk duty, is now facing an internal affairs investigation for his aggressive behavior.
"I really just couldn't watch it anymore," Sanderlin said. "And just kind of made like a parallel walkover, put my hands up, and just stood in the line of the fire and asked them to please not do this."
The video shows the officers' training their riot guns on Sanderlin.
He stood a good distance away, made no aggressive motions to police, yet they fired on him several times, one round hitting 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 said.
Derrick and Cayla Sanderlin have been married four years.
They both work for charities helping people who are suffering economically during the pandemic.
After Derrick's emergency surgery for a rupture, the doctors aren't sure they'll be able to have children.
"The doctor had let me know before the operation that there's no way of fully telling until you try to have kids," Derrick Sanderlin said.
"And I just started weeping at the thought of that. You know, we, we do want kids and we're very close to having kids," Cayla Sanderlin said.
They have retained an attorney who is preparing a claim against the city and the police.
"They were aiming for a body part that is prohibited when using those type of riot guns. You're not meant to aim at the groin or the head ever," said attorney Sarah Marinho.
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This story then takes a turn.
That officer didn't know the person he shot has connections or that he knows the San Jose police chief personally.
For three years, Derrick Sanderlin has helped train new police recruits about implicit bias and procedural justice. He wonders now if that work was in vain.
"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 said.
ABC7 broke the news to Chief Eddie Garcia about what happened.
This afternoon, he called Derrick Sanderlin and issued a statement: "Derrick has been a real leader in our communities' efforts to reduce bias and discrimination through dialogue. I assured him we will be investigating this incident."
The chief also said he is re-evaluating at what point in a confrontation officers can fire those projectiles.
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