Caught on tape: Sheriff's vehicle hits van

March 21, 2008 7:28:42 PM PDT
In San Francisco, the Sheriff's Department is investigating what might be, at worst, a minor fender bender. But because of the circumstances, it's a bit more than that. They have found the evidence to be both conclusive, and also surprising.

When parking in the city, dings and bashes come with the turf. Such realities did not comfort Jeff Kerr when he returned to his van on Wednesday and found his rear-view mirror knocked off.

"I was first disappointed when I noticed that whoever broke the mirror didnt't leave a note on my windshield," said Jeff.

So he got stuck with paying $336 to replace it. But this story isn't so much about a small claim, as a large dose of 'gotcha,' because Jeff just happens to install and maintain security cameras for a living, including the one attached to the hotel which overlooks the corner.

"That camera got it," said Jeff.

A look at the video shows Jeff's van is just out frame to the left as a San Francisco County Sheriff's van passes by. You can see his mirror falling to the pavement just below the bumper of a car. It's clear evidence as Jeff sees it, that a Sheriff's Department vehicle did the damage.

"I don't think they believed me at first, and when I told them I had it on video, they figured they'd better get out here," said Jeff.

So is this an embarrassment to the Sheriff's Department? It's too soon to tell, according to Chief of Staff Elaine Hirst.

Wayne Freedman: "Is your department likely to file charges against whoever drove this van?"

Elaine Hirst: "We will know that after the investigation is complete."

In all of this, Jeff Kerr is bothered most by the fact that whoever drove that van seemed to know it. His disc shows the sheriff's van hitting the brakes, with no one ahead on an uphill slope.

"Honestly, I'm old school and if I did something wrong or if I break something, I'm the first to admit it," said Jeff.

In this case, the Sheriff's Department has done so.

"We're taking responsibility. We're very sorry that this happened and we are working as fast as we can to find exactly who is responsible for this," said Hirst.

The department says that may take a while because it owns six identical vans. But here's a clue -- the guilty one has a burned out brake light.