Nicholas Perry was about to take his kids shopping when he found the bumper sheared off his pearl white Mercedes Benz.
“They didn’t even leave a note or anything,” he recounted about the 2021 collision in a San Francisco parking garage. “It was crazy.”
That aggravating-but-ordinary run-in emerged nearly two years later in a scandal surrounding Oakland Police Chief LeRonne Armstrong and the way his department handled officer misconduct.
It wasn’t until The Standard called Perry on Monday that he learned officials blamed an Oakland police sergeant and his romantic partner—another cop—for the hit-and-run.
New Oakland Mayor Sheng Thao put Armstrong on paid leave Jan. 19 after a report found the Oakland Police Department failed to hold the sergeant accountable for two separate incidents, including the hit-and-run.
The report was completed by a law firm Oakland hired to investigate the incidents at the behest of a federal monitor who has long overseen the department and its reforms.
The Standard obtained new details on the hit-and-run through a public records request. The second case involved the sergeant discharging his firearm in an elevator at an Oakland police building—and failing to report it until later.
The sergeant was identified as Michael Chung by news site Oaklandside. The Standard’s attempts to reach him through his attorney and other representatives were not immediately successful.
Armstrong defended the way he handled the incidents and demanded his immediate reinstatement.
In a statement Monday, the chief said he disciplined the sergeant for the crash, but did not have a chance to punish him for the elevator incident before the federal monitor took over the probe. Armstrong accused the court-appointed watchdog, Robert Warshaw, of acting in “his own clear self-interest.”
“As Oakland neared the end of its monitorship after demonstrating sustained compliance under my leadership as Chief, Mr. Warshaw acted in the interest of his own pocketbook by manufacturing a false crisis to justify extending his lucrative monitoring contract,” Armstrong said.
‘It Was Such a Big Mess’
Video of the March 2021 hit-and-run shows a black Chevrolet Tahoe nearly swiping the front bumper off the parked car, stopping several seconds and then driving away.
The Oakland Police Department found out about the incident months later when an insurance claim asked the city to pay for the damage, according to the new report.
The department identified the people in the car as the sergeant and officer, who were seen on video pulling suitcases through the parking garage and loading the luggage into the Tahoe.
A copy of the claim obtained by The Standard shows the hit-and-run was more than a fender-bender. The claim includes photos showing the car’s right bumper hanging on the ground. Grainy stills from the video also appear to show the moments the Tahoe struck the car and hit the brakes.
The claim also reveals the incident happened at 399 Fremont St. in San Francisco and caused nearly $14,000 in damages to Perry’s Mercedes.
“It was such a big mess in the parking lot,” Perry said Monday. “There was shit all over the floor. There was debris on the ground. The bumper was ripped almost completely off.”
The sergeant ultimately received training and counseling as punishment, but the internal investigation downplayed his credibility issues, according to the independent report.
The second incident happened in April 2022, when officers at an Oakland police building noticed a bullet strike mark in an elevator that no one reported. More than a week passed before the sergeant reportedly admitted to discharging his gun in the elevator and throwing the shell casing into the San Francisco Bay while driving his police vehicle over the Bay Bridge.
The sergeant was put on administrative leave, but the independent report found that OPD failed to “effectively investigate and discipline a sergeant of police who broke the law and failed to report his own misconduct.”
Those failures “permitted that sergeant to evade serious discipline and allowed him to commit far more serious misconduct when, several months later, he discharged his service weapon inside a building full of people.”
The issues identified in the investigations reflect poorly on the department and its leadership, the report added.
The report said the investigations “revealed issues and shortcomings that go beyond the conduct of individual officers to the very question of whether the Oakland Police Department is capable of policing itself and effectively holding its own officers accountable for misconduct.”
As for Perry, he saw the crash as an example of police entitlement.
“You know how cops are,” Perry said. “They live like they’re above the law because they have a badge.”