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A Man Died After Being Hit By A Driver At A Protest Against Police Brutality

Police said the primary factor in the collision was the man being in the roadway, but after pushback on social media, the department clarified the incident remains under investigation.

Posted on June 7, 2020, at 3:59 p.m. ET

Bakersfield Police Department / Via Facebook: 23ABCBakersfield

A man died on Saturday after he was hit by a car at a protest against police brutality earlier in the week in Bakersfield, California.

According to a GoFundMe page set up for his family, Robert Forbes was part of a group of peaceful protesters on Wednesday that marched through the central California city. About 100 people were walking in the westbound lanes of California Avenue around 10:20 p.m., with several vehicles slowly following behind them.

According to police, traffic continued to flow as normal in eastbound lanes, where the speed limit is 45 mph. As Forbes was crossing the street, police said he was struck by a car that witnesses estimated was going between 30 and 50 mph.

Video from the protest shows marchers chasing after the car after Forbes was hit. Immediately, there was outrage that the white driver wasn't placed in handcuffs after hitting a Black man.

These signs for Robert Forbes are being posted around #Bakersfield.

This is the murders car ! This is vehicler manslaughter ! (AT THE VERY LEAST) This is our home Bakersfield which has let a murder walk away after smoking cigarettes! #JusticeForRobertForbes

A video posted to Twitter shows the driver smoking a cigarette as police officers stand by.

On Saturday, Bakersfield police Sgt. Nathan McCauley addressed some of the concerns in a video, saying the driver was cooperating with officers, who then took him into custody for sobriety tests and to take his statement.

"Drivers involved in traffic collisions are not immediately handcuffed and put in the back of patrol vehicles, unless they are trying to flee or there's something that would lead officers to believe it was an intentional act and a crime had occurred," he said.

The driver stopped about 150 yards away from the crash and waited for police, he said. In the meantime, officers — including undercover units at the front of the protest — began tending to Forbes and calling for additional aid within two minutes of the crash, he said.

As of Sunday, the driver has not been arrested. McCauley said there was no evidence he was under the influence or speeding at the time of the crash. Police have said the "primary collision factor" was that Forbes was in the street, which McCauley noted had low lighting.

"Pedestrians do not always have the right of way," he said. "Pedestrians are expected to cross the roadway where there's crosswalks and where there's legal places to cross there. Pedestrians running out in front of a roadway, in front of oncoming traffic, cannot always be expected to have drivers be able to stop on a dime. Moving vehicles don't work that way."

The investigation is ongoing, he added, and anyone with information or videos showing the crash were urged to contact police.

Family members have disputed the police account of what happened.

"I think the driver hitting him was intentional,” Forbes’ sister Espinola Parker told local NBC affiliate KGET.

The crash that killed Forbes came after a separate incident involving protesters and a driver during Wednesday's march. Around 7:45 p.m., a vehicle nearly struck several protesters who were kneeling in an intersection, police said.

In yet another recent incident in Bakersfield, a man was arrested and charged with attempted murder after allegedly accelerating his Toyota Rav4 into a crowd of protesters, hitting a 15-year-old girl.

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