SBCSD Falsifying Traffic Collision Report To Protect Deputy, Witnesses Say

SAN BERNARDINO—The San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department has moved to protect one of its officers after he was involved in a traffic collision in which he ran a red light while rushing to assist another officer, witnesses and an individual with ties to the department have told the Sentinel.
The department has declined to identify the officer in question, while propounding a description of the accident which witnesses say glosses over the deputy’s violation of not only traffic law but department policy relating to how department vehicles should be deployed during emergency procedures.
Of crucial importance are witness accounts which hold that the sheriff’s deputy had not engaged his unit’s lights and siren and that it was the sheriff’s patrol car which broadsided the civilian vehicle in the collision. According to two official accounts provided by the department, the sheriff’s vehicle was traveling with its lights and siren on and it was the civilian vehicle that ran into the car driven by the deputy.
This much is known to have happened: A gold Buick four door sedan driven by Thomas Brannan, a 51-year-old resident of Victorville, and a marked sheriff’s patrol unit, driven by an as-yet publicly unidentified sheriff’s deputy, collided in the intersection of Del Rosa and Highland Avenues at approximately 8:52 a.m. on Sunday July 19.
The precise details are less than clear.
The sheriff’s department put out a press release concerning the incident, the summary from which reads as follows: “On Sunday, July 19th, at about 0852 hours, an on-duty Deputy Sheriff was responding to an emergency call with (code 3) lights and siren activated. The deputy was driving south on Del Rosa Avenue and came to the intersection of Highland Avenue, in the city of San Bernardino. At the same time, Brannan was driving east on Highland approaching the same intersection. The front of the Buick collided into the passenger’s side front of the patrol unit in a broadside manner. After impact, the vehicles were diverted to their point of rest on the southeast corner of the intersection. The front of the patrol unit collided with a signal pole and the Buick collided with a water main. Both parties suffered minor injuries and were transported to local hospitals.”
Later that day, sheriff’s corporal Mark Addy, who heads a traffic accident investigative unit based in Rancho Cucamonga, made this statement, which was captured on video:
“Today we responded to an officer-involved collision at the intersection of Highland and Del Rosa in the city of San Bernardino. Our deputy sheriff was rolling code three with lights and sirens to an emergency call He was headed southbound on Del Rosa. As he came through the intersection with his lights and siren still activated he was broadsided by this vehicle. Both vehicles came to rest on the southeast corner of the roadway. Each party suffered minor injuries, nothing fatal, nothing too serious. The were both transported to local hospitals where they are still being treated.”
But the nearly indistinguishable versions of events in the department’s press release and Addy’s statement were contradicted by three others, including two witnesses at the Del Rosa and Highland intersection when the crash occurred.
“I was standing on the corner near Walgreens,” one witness told the Sentinel. “The sheriff’s car did not have its lights and siren on. He hit the guy.”
According to the witness, “The sheriff’s car ran the red light. He had the red light as he was coming up. There was another car coming toward Del Rosa at the same time. There was a lady in the crosswalk and she had to jump back about three steps to deep from being hit. The guy who was hit got out of his car because it looked like his car was going to catch on fire because the smoke was really bad. We tried to help the officer out of the car but he didn’t want to get out and he stayed there, He wouldn’t really look at us. You would think he was dead. I dialed 911 and couldn’t get an answer. I hung up and tried again. I still could not get them to answer. I finally dialed again and let it just keep ringing. It rang about 20 times before they finally answered. I told him there was a serious accident. After that there was a firetruck there and then the helicopter and whole bunch of police cars. When the ambulance came, the officer did get out of his car and he laid down in the stretcher.”
On Tuesday, July 21, the San Bernardino Sun ran an article, authored by Doug Sanders in which Addy was first paraphrased as having said, “the deputy… was driving south on Del Rosa Avenue with his overhead lights and siren on when he slowed to cross Highland Avenue” and then quoted as having said, “As he came through the intersection with his lights and sirens still activated he was broadsided by the other vehicle.”
The witness told the Sentinel she read that article and “It was written just the opposite of the way it was. The officer’s car ran into the other car. And it did not have its lights or siren going,”
She provided a statement to the first set of investigating officers to arrive on the scene, the witness said, as did another woman who was standing nearby. “After we gave them our story, that lady said, ‘I bet they are going to change around what we just told them. She was right. The story that came out is the exact opposite of what really happened.”
One well-placed source told the Sentinel, “The article states that the deputy was driving with lights and sirens, and that another man ran the red light. I happen to know that this is wrong,” stating that there is “suspicion and fear that the department would cover it up and try to blame the other driver.”
As of Thursday, the Sentinel has learned, one of the witnesses and another individual, concerned that Brannan will be determined to be at fault, are attempting to track him down so that the witness’s statement can be provided to his insurance company.
According to the department, the sheriff’s department’s regional major accident investigation team, in which Addy is a lead officer, is investigating the incident.
Reached at his Rancho Cucamonga office, Addy told the Sentinel that his videotaped statement in which he claimed the unidentified deputy had engaged his patrol unit’s lights and siren and was broadsided in the intersection was based on “information I got from my investigating officers, the department press release and witnesses.”
Addy doubled down on the claim that the witnesses supported the claim the lights and siren on the patrol car were on and that it was Brannan who ran into the patrol car and not the other way around. “We have several witnesses the investigating officers talked with,” he said.
Asked if there were contradictory statements given by the witnesses, Addy said, “I am not going to disclose that, but we do have witnesses that back up what the press release stated.
Addy said there was not a red light camera at the intersection to show which car had the green light and which had the red light when the collision occurred. He did acknowledge, however, that the patrol unit did have a black box which will allow investigators to determine if the lights and siren were activated just before and at the time of the collision. Asked if data from the black box had been downloaded and evaluated at this point, Addy said, “This is a complicated investigation. It may be several months before it is completed.”
Any discrepancies between witness statements will be resolved, Addy said. “Traffic investigations are very black and white,” he said. There is no grey.”
Pressed as to whether there were any contradictions in the evidence or witness statements examined so far and whether statements which contradicted his and the department’s version of events were being downplayed, ignored or changed to achieve a prearranged outcome to protect the unidentified officer involved in the collision, Addy said, “This is a very fair investigation. I have faith in my investigators. They are very thorough. Everything will be examined and nothing will be overlooked.”
If it turns out that the description of what occurred that he gave on the video and the department’s press release are shown to be inaccurate when the investigation is concluded, Addy said, the record will be corrected. “If the investigation shows we missed something or misspoke or it did not occur as we said, our press division can always recant and put out another press release,” he said.

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