Officer's Report Contradicts First Account of Fenty Collision

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."

He said the officer on the scene should have taken pictures of the accident because it involved city property. According to the police department's general orders, pictures must be taken if city-owned property is involved in an accident.

"The officer should have taken one," Nickles said. "I guess he didn't. Bad boy."

The accident report does not list other people who were in Fenty's vehicle. But a neighbor said that night that the mayor had his three children and one of their friends in the SUV when the crash occurred.

The report states: "Include all operators, passengers and pedestrians involved even if not injured."

Nickles said that for insurance purposes, the children should have been listed. "I'd want to make sure the report lists the passengers," he said.

The intersection has a four-way stop and is clearly marked with stop signs. The officer on the scene listed Fenty as the owner of the car but "DC Govt" as his car insurance provider.

"The mayor probably incorrectly assumed he was the owner because he was the person in control of the car," Nickles said.

The Navigator's front bumper and driver's sideboard were damaged, according to initial reports after the accident.

Staff writer Nikita Stewart and staff researcher Meg Smith contributed to this report.

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