Commerce Secretary John Bryson's Crashes a Hot Potato for Police

2 accidents in 2 cities for commerce secretary; neither force seems to want to handle touchy case.

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Two crashes in the Los Angeles area involving Commerce Secretary John Bryson have left local police departments fumbling over who will handle the intense media scrutiny of the incidents.

The traffic accidents took place in the cities of San Gabriel and Rosemead, and the San Gabriel Police Department is investigating the collisions, which a Commerce Department spokeswoman says were the result of a seizure.

All media inquiries, however, have been given over to the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department.

"It would be normal in this case for San Gabriel to handle it," a frustrated Sgt. Pauline Panis of the L.A. County Sheriff's Department press office told Whispers. "But they probably don't want to do it."

Panis said that whether or not San Gabriel felt the case was too sensitive, "it's sensitive to us too."

Another local officer told Whispers he thought San Gabriel was handling the media and had directed multiple media inquiries there.

Requests for comment from the San Gabriel Police Department were not returned.

The L.A. County Sheriff's Department released a statement Monday on the incidents, writing that Bryson allegedly rear-ended a Buick waiting for a passing train in San Gabriel, spoke with three males sitting in the Buick, then hit the vehicle again as he left the scene.

Bryson then drove into Rosemead, where he allegedly caused a second collision, according to the statement. Bryson was found unconscious behind the wheel in Rosemead.

The L.A. County Sheriff's Department said there was "no indication that alcohol or drugs played a role."

But the San Gabriel Police Department told Talking Points Memo that investigators haven't yet ruled out drugs or alcohol.

Jennifer Friedman, director of public affairs at the Commerce Department, told Whispers that Bryson had suffered a seizure and was taken to the hospital. Bryson is is now back in Washington, she says.

The secretary has been cited for a felony hit-and-run for the incident, though he has not been formally charged. An investigation is ongoing.

It remains unclear which police department will relay the results of that investigation.

  • Commerce: Bryson Suffered Seizure
  • GOP Critics On John Bryson
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  • Elizabeth Flock is a staff writer for U.S. News & World Report. You can contact her at or follow her on Twitter and Facebook.