Hi, my question involves a car accident I was in recently and the subsequent citations I received based on an incomplete and inaccurate police report. (State is California)
I was driving in a residential neighborhood at around 11 PM in a large SUV (my father's car). I stopped at a stop sign, saw a car approaching from my left side at what was a safe distance, made a left turn that was a little sharp but not reckless, and within seconds of heading down the street the oncoming car suddenly swerved (and appeared to possibly accelerate) into my lane so I swerved a HARD left and struck a light pole. I was not going terribly fast, but the damage to the front of the car was substantial and the light pole was bent. The speed limit on the road in question is 40, I estimate that I was going 20 at the time of impact. The airbags in that particular car deploy at 35, and the airbags did NOT deploy in this impact. The other car did not stop but instead sped off. I can only say that I took the actual turn sharply, but did come to a COMPLETE stop at the stop sign. I was completely uninjured. When the other car swerved in to my lane, it was extremely erratic-almost as if they were drunk.
When officers responded to the scene, I answered all their questions and passed a breathalyzer. I also described to them exactly what happened, and I even described to them as best as I could the make and model of the car. I primarily interacted with 2 officers: the motorcycle officer that administered my breathalyzer and asked me the vast majority of the questions and then at the end of the investigation the traffic officer (w/ motorcycle officer present). I very distinctly remember stating that I came to a complete stop at the stop sign several times, however the traffic officer stated "C'mon man, I know that you rolled through that stop sign at like 10 to 15 miles an hour". The traffic officer then went from being skeptical to downright combative with me and accused me of lying on several occasions, and at some point in time the motorcycle officer actually made 2 terse comments in my defense (at this point in time, all other police cars had left). They both left without citing me. The traffic officer was the officer in charge of the accident report that would be prepared in the following days.
I then received two citations in the mail: 1) 22450 (a) CVC failure to stop at the stop sign in question and 2) 22350 CVC usafe speed for conditions as a result of the police report.
The police report, however, is the crux of my inquiry: for one, it has absolutely NO mention of the other car swerving in to my lane. NONE. Instead, it states that I was driving at 20 mph, passed the stop sign, "turned a hard fast turn and lost control and drove right in to the pole". This was NOT the account I gave. I stopped completely at the sign, turned left, and was going about 20 when I swerved to avoid the other car. Also, the report stated that I "could not tell [the officer] if [I] had stopped at the stop sign", which is entirely untrue because I told them specifically I came to a full stop. Since the police report held me at fault, I am now responsible for the damage to the light pole. The next morning I took pictures of the entire crash site, and the only tire skid marks present were directly before the light pole, and NOT at the stop sign or at the left turn, thereby making it hard to believe that I really blew through the stop sign and took such an incredibly sharp turn, particularly in a large SUV that tips easily and would almost certainly leave tire skids because of its immense inertia.
My question is: what is the best protocol in dealing with this situation if the police report completely OMITS THE ENTIRE REASON I swerved in to the light pole in the first place? Should I file a complaint with the police department directly, or wait until my court date to bring it up? Either the officer did not believe my account, but in that case I should have been cited for lying to the officers, or they willfully ignored it, which strikes me as being unfairly biased against me and unfairly sets the blame of the accident on me. Also, the two citations are based on conjecture (albeit conjecture informed by experience) based on the traffic officer's cursory examination, purely by looking at it with a flashlight, of the damage to the car and light pole. No forensics team arrived.
My main question is what to do regarding the omissions in the police report as they seriously compromise my ability to challenge the tickets...