Peter Sanders, a civilian employee and chief spokesman for the Los Angeles Fire Department, is accused of using a city vehicle to stop and threaten an Uber driver who got into a shouting match with Sanders’ wife in a parking lot, according to a police report The Times obtained.
The incident occurred at a Trader Joe’s in Studio City and spilled onto Ventura Boulevard on Friday evening. The report does not identify Sanders by name, but sources close to the investigation said he and his wife were the ones involved.
The Los Angeles Police Department is investigating the incident. Sanders has not been arrested or charged with a crime. He declined to comment to The Times.
After Uber driver Harry Michaels and Sanders’ wife got into an argument over his attempt to drive past her car, Michaels said, a black car pulled up behind him with lights and sirens on, the report said.
Michaels stopped, and Sanders and his wife jumped out of their vehicles and swore at him, the report said. The wife then allegedly kicked the door of Michaels’ 2015 Mercedes-Benz, according to the report. Michaels told police he got out to warn the couple not to touch his car. That’s when Michaels said Peter Sanders pushed him in the chest, urging Michaels to hit him, the report said.
“You don’t talk to my wife that way,” Michaels said Sanders told him, according to the report. “I’m going to [expletive] you up. Do you know who I am? I’m the Fire Department and I can have you arrested right now.”
Tensions continued to flare.
Michaels claimed that after he got back in his car, Sanders smashed his hand in the door, the report said. Michaels drove away but said Sanders pulled behind him again with the lights and sirens on. Michaels said he told Sanders he called police. Sanders drove away. The report does not include any statements from him or his wife.
Michaels told police that Sanders wore a black shirt with an embroidered fire badge. Officers found a 2-inch scratch on the car and estimated the damage at $200, the report said.
Michaels did not return a call for comment.
LAFD Capt. Eric Scott said the department learned about the incident on Saturday and referred it to internal investigators. The department, Scott said, is cooperating with police. Scott cited the ongoing personnel matter and declined further comment.
Sanders is the son of Barry Sanders, a prominent attorney, who once served as the president of the Board of Commissioners of the Recreation and Parks Department and the chairman of the Los Angeles Parks Foundation. He also served on the the Board of Commissioners for the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum.
Peter Sanders, a former reporter at the Wall Street Journal, served as the deputy mayor for communications in the Villaraigosa administration. He joined the LAFD in 2015 and became controversial within the ranks.
Assistant Chief Pat Butler, the former president and vice president of the Los Angeles Fire Department Chief Officers Assn., said he had complained previously about Sanders having a car with lights and siren, as well as getting a firefighter uniform, because he is a civilian employee.