Police Report Contradicts Earlier Account of Fenty Collision

Following Mayor Adrian Fenty's signing of the Omnibus Crime bill, D.C. Police Chief Cathy Lanier and Attorney General Peter Nickles took the time to defend the mayor's action during a recent fender bender. Video by Hamil Harris/The Washington Post
By Allison Klein
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, August 6, 2009

A police report that details the fender bender in upper Northwest Washington involving D.C. Mayor Adrian M. Fenty on Sunday contradicts what his spokeswoman said the night of the accident.

The report also indicates that several police procedures were violated, including the omission of the names of Fenty's passengers from the accident form and the failure to take photos at the scene even though a city vehicle was damaged. The report was taken by a member of Fenty's security detail, not a regular patrol officer.

Spokeswoman Mafara Hobson wrote in an e-mail Sunday that "a vehicle ran a stop sign and pulled out in front of the Mayor's vehicle, causing a collision."

But the accident report indicates that Fenty's Lincoln Navigator was the "striking vehicle" in the crash with the Nissan Pathfinder, driven by James Utt Jr., 19.

It also states that Fenty said his Navigator was struck by the Pathfinder, while the other driver said "he never saw" Fenty's sport-utility vehicle before the crash. Utt did not return a message left at his home.

The officer who wrote the report "couldn't determine who was at fault" and did not issue traffic tickets, the document says.

That officer, Brian Thompson, is part of the mayor's security detail, according to the report.

Nobody was injured in the accident, which happened at 7 p.m. as Fenty (D) was traveling south on Broad Branch Road and the Pathfinder was heading west on Rittenhouse Street, according to the report.

Fenty has had a few high-profile issues with his cars since summer 2007, when he began driving the Navigator himself and abandoned his security detail, which included a plainclothes police officer who drove the SUV. In May, he allowed a friend to chauffeur him in the Navigator, in apparent violation of laws that permit only city employees and officials to drive government vehicles. The city auditor called the practice a liability, and Fenty later said it was a mistake.

Hobson and the police department referred questions to the city attorney general. Attorney General Peter Nickles said Fenty called him after Sunday's accident and told him that the other driver ran through a stop sign and hit him.

"The issue will be handled by the insurance companies," Nickles said.

He added that he would tell police to add a supplemental report with more information. "Whoever took the report didn't do a very good job," he said. "It's not very clear."

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