VALLEJO – A Vallejo police officer crashed into another car while driving through a red light during a 2017 pursuit, but did not stop to assess the other driver and did not report the crash to the police department for 47 minutes, according to a notice of discipline recently obtained by the Vallejo Sun.
Officer Jodi Brown crashed into the other car at 8:45 a.m. on Oct. 22, 2017, at Steffan and Georgia streets, hitting the other car’s right front. The disciplinary notice — dated Sept. 4, 2018, and signed by former police Chief Andrew Bidou — found that Brown waiting 47 minutes to report the crash was an “unreasonable time delay.” The notice does not disclose whether the other driver was injured.
Brown was suspended for one day for that crash and a second on-duty collision a week later. The second crash happened just before midnight on Oct. 29, 2017, at the intersection of Gordon and Ninth streets. The police investigation found Brown was at fault for not properly yielding after a stop.
Brown also did not disclose the Oct. 22 crash in her written report, which the Sun obtained via a public records request. Neither the Vallejo Police Department nor Brown responded to questions about why Brown did not disclose it in her report or whether the other drivers were injured.
Despite the discipline, Brown was awarded a medal of merit on May 2, 2019, part of a pattern of Vallejo police officers receiving awards after being involved in incidents that led to discipline or civil rights payouts.
According to Brown’s report, the Oct. 22 pursuit started when she was patrolling in the area of El Camino Real and Valle Vista Avenue at 8:43 a.m. Brown wrote that she saw a white Jaguar sedan parked next to a Dodge truck and a man, who she identified as Juan Salto, taking tools from the back of the truck and putting them in the Jaguar. Brown wrote that the man got into the car and left when he saw Brown.
Brown wrote that she knew that the man and a passenger in his car, whom she identified as Daniel Magana, did not live at the address, so she turned on her patrol car’s lights and sirens to pull them over. Instead, they ran a stop sign and sped away, according to Brown’s report of the incident.
Brown pursued the vehicle at over 70 mph on residential streets and over 110 mph on the freeway, according to her report. She wrote that Salto fled from the car on foot and Magana took over driving. At one point, she lost sight of the car and wrote that as she was making a U-turn on Cypress Avenue, the Jaguar came around the corner and clipped the front of her patrol car as it was driving by.
The California Highway Patrol took over the pursuit, which went on for 35 minutes until it ended in San Leandro, where Magana was arrested.
It was unclear from Brown’s report at what point she crashed into the bystander driver. She was disciplined nearly a year later for not stopping at the crash scene and for failing to immediately alert dispatchers to the crash.
The incident was one of several problems in recent years regarding Brown, who was hired in 2013 after stints with Richmond and Sacramento police and has since been promoted to sergeant.
In 2014, a driver alleged in a lawsuit that Vallejo police violated his 4th Amendment rights when he was asked to produce his driver’s license at a drunk driving checkpoint. The driver also claimed that when he refused to produce his driver’s license, Brown forcefully pulled him from his vehicle. A federal judge later ruled in favor of the city, which was upheld by the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals. The man’s attorneys are seeking further review of the case.
In 2019, John Mark Raudelunas — a 71-year-old disabled man — sued Vallejo police, saying that when he tried to report another driver throwing an object at his car and striking him in the head, Brown responded, refused to help, then followed him home and Tased him for no reason. The lawsuit is still pending.
Brown was later promoted to sergeant and supervised other officers in the patrol division under Lt. Steve Darden. In that role, the officers under her supervision complained last year that Brown and Darden had engaged in “retaliation,” “harassment,” and created a “hostile work environment.” The complaint led in part to the firing of Deputy Police Chief Michael Kihmm over his handling of the matter.
It is unclear if the department took any action regarding Brown.
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THE VALLEJO SUN NEWSLETTER
Investigative reporting, regular updates, events and more
- Vallejo Police Department
- Jodi Brown
- Juan Salto
- Daniel Magana
- California Highway Patrol
- John Mark Raudelunas
- Steve Darden
- Michael Kihmm
Scott Morris is a journalist based in Oakland who covers policing, protest, civil rights and far-right extremism. His work has been published in ProPublica, the Appeal and Oaklandside.
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