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BPD responds to accusations of misconduct in fatal protest accident

Posted at 5:40 PM, Jun 08, 2020
and last updated 2020-06-08 20:41:07-04

The continuous outcry from protesters following the death of Robert Forbes continues in Kern County. He was the protester that was struck and killed by a vehicle Wednesday night in Southwest Bakersfield.

The Bakersfield Police Department released a video over the weekend showing surveillance footage of the vehicle that struck 56-year-old Forbes on California Avenue near Oak Street.

Police say the driver was not impaired by drugs or alcohol, was following the speed limit - which was 45 miles per hour in the area - and stepped on the breaks prior to colliding with Forbes. Following the incident, the police did not arrest the driver.

Since then, the incident has gone viral on social media with many accusing BPD of racism and protecting the driver. But Bakersfield Police Sgt. Nathan McCauley said that's not the case.

"There's no effort to covering anything up or protect someone in this process here. It's an unbiased investigation. Going through gathering evidence, gathering facts, going through witness statements, relying on physical evidence to allow us to make the appropriate choice," explained McCauley. "I don't believe our officers are racist. I know my actions in the past 13 years here were not motivated by race in any way shape or form. I believe that to be true of our officers that work here. I believe they do a good job at maintaining professionalism and holding each other accountable."

Some protesters making rounds on social media state the driver, who is white, is racist, and purposefully struck Forbes. But the executive director of the African-American Network of Kern County, Dee Slade, wants protesters to be mindful of their accusations.

"What I'm going to say is let's not draw into that implicit bias. Let's not draw into that negative rhetoric. Let's be positive and absolutely sure that this individual is guilty in purposefully taking a life in a peaceful environment."

BPD says the investigation into this deadly crash is still ongoing.