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Oakland police sergeant caused $14K of damage in Mercedes hit-and run, claim shows

Damage to this Mercedes Benz cost $14,000, insurance claim shows. Source: wrongful claim filed in Oakland

Damage to a Mercedes-Benz S600 cost about $14,000, insurance claim receipts show, in a hit-and-run at the center of the latest Oakland Police saga.

Mercedes owner Nick Perry of San Francisco filed the insurance claim stemming from the March 25, 2021 hit-and-run at 399 Fremont Street with the city of Oakland the following month. Specifically, the bill totaled $13,911.41.

Photos of the claim obtained through a Public Records request, and first reported by The San Francisco Standard, show extensive damage to the front bumper of the luxury car.

In the report, Perry learned that it was a vehicle in Oakland that hit his Mercedes based on the license plate number, but he did not know who was behind the driver’s wheel at the time.

The driver appeared to be Oakland Police Sgt. Michael Chung, KTVU learned. Efforts to reach Chung and his attorney were unsuccessful.

Perry’s detailed listing was submitted as an insurance claim and shows extensive repairs to the bumper, grille and frame of the car.

Efforts to reach Perry on Wednesday were not immediately successful.

But he told The Standard that at the time he was about to take his children shopping when he noticed his bumper hanging from his car, and that he felt it was another case of extreme police rights.

At a news conference this week, Oakland Police Chief LeRonne Armstrong described the hit-and-run this week as “minor.”

However, many others would not.

The hit-and-run — and what followed — became the flashpoint in the latest setback for the beleaguered police department, now in its 20th year of federal oversight — the longest such oversight in American history.

Mayor Sheng Thao placed Armstrong on administrative leave and the likely extension of this federal oversight stems both from Perry’s shaved Mercedes bumper – and the dishonesty and cover-up that followed.

A 16-page report released last week by the law firm Clarence, Dyer and Cohen revealed that this particular sergeant hit Perry’s Mercedes two years ago while he was with his girlfriend – another police officer of Oakland.

Chung was driving a Chevrolet Tahoe in the city when he hit Perry’s car, stopped for about 5 seconds to see what he had done, then left the scene without getting out of his car, the report found , although they did not identify. Chung by name.

Chevrolet Tahoe Leaves Scene

A Chevrolet Tahoe leaves a parking garage at 399 Fremont St. in San Francisco. Photo: Tort claim

Chung also did not report his relationship with his girlfriend, which he was required to do because he was her superior, the report found.

The city of Oakland only discovered the hit-and-run when they received Perry’s Progressive insurance claim for the bumper damage two months later, according to the report.

The police department learned of the collision even later than that.

On July 14, 2021, an OPD lieutenant found out who the sergeant was by piecing together the video at the scene and the insurance claim. At that point, the lieutenant told Chung to file a report with the San Francisco Police Department. The case was then referred to OPD’s Internal Affairs section.

An IA investigator was assigned to the case on October 12, 2021, seven months after the stomping spree and three months after Chung’s identity was revealed.

During his IA interview, the sergeant, “maintained that he had no recollection of the vehicle collision and was unaware that it had occurred at the time it occurred,” the report said. Chung’s girlfriend also said she had no idea about the collision and had “no memory of the day in question”.

The IA investigator prepared his report and concluded that a “preponderance of the evidence” showed that the sergeant should be held responsible for violating the department’s rules and obeying hit-and-run laws. The investigator also questioned “the credibility” of the sergeant and his girlfriend.

But Chung’s captain — who now works for the East Bay Park District — ordered him to revise his report, downplay the misconduct and exclude any mention of the sergeant’s dating relationship or its veracity, the report said.

When the IA investigator presented his findings to the “Chief’s Friday Meeting” on Dec. 23, 2021 — eight months after the hit-and-run — Armstrong “did not allow extensive discussion of the case and did not request that the video be shown, instead quickly approving the recommended sustained finding and signing off on the final ROI without reading it,” the report said.

Chung was not fired. He received counseling and training.

“This guy committed a crime,” civil rights attorney Jim Chanin said last week. “There wasn’t a criminal investigation. The guy got counseling for this particular issue. What would happen if you or I, if we did $15,000 worth of damage in the parking lot and drove away? We would be arrested. That’s what is appropriate. Instead, the police covered it up.”

But Chung’s alleged misconduct did not end there.

Almost a year after the hit-and-run, he fired his gun in an OPD elevator on April 16, 2022.

The discharge created a mark on the wall in the elevator, which colleagues noticed.

Chung never reported the alleged accidental discharge of his gun and was found to have removed the bullet casings without initially telling anyone, the report found.

About a week later, Chung came forward and told an investigator that he was the one who fired the gun but threw the shell casings into the San Francisco Bay while driving his squad car over the Bay Bridge .

He was immediately placed on administrative leave, and a criminal investigation was launched.

Outside investigators recommended that the department discipline him for various rule violations.

Chung was placed on paid administrative leave the same month. Today, nine months later, he is still on that leave.

A federal monitor asked the law firm to conduct their own outside investigation into Chung’s conduct in May 2022.

It was during this elevator-gun investigation that the Clarence Dyer and Cohen law firm “encountered multiple deficiencies in process and policy that undermined full and complete discovery of the facts.”

The failure to investigate internal misconduct, the report authors wrote, allows employees, such as the sergeant, to commit more serious issues.

The report’s authors did not mince words when they wrote that the investigations into this sergeant were “plagued by a lack of sincerity” and lacked a commitment to “the pursuit of truth.”

The law firm also specifically pointed to Armstrong’s failures during all of these IA investigations and they wrote that there are “systemic deficiencies” in the department.

Speaking publicly at an NAACP rally this week, Armstrong said he would not back down from this fight, arguing that he “did nothing wrong” and made the best choices he could based on the evidence was presented to him at the time.

However, U.S. District Judge William Orrick took up the issue during a court hearing on Tuesday and showed his dismay at what is going on at OPD.

Orrick said this latest revelation about the sergeant — and his superiors who downplayed what he did — shows a “serious issue that exposes rot.”

Lisa Fernandez is a reporter for KTVU. Email Lisa at lisa.fernandez@fox.com or call her at 510-874-0139. Or follow her on Twitter @ljfernandez

Lisa Fernandez is a reporter for KTVU. Email Lisa at lisa.fernandez@fox.com or call her at 510-874-0139. Or follow her on Twitter @ljfernandez

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