DA Investigating Allegations of “Inappropriate Behavior” and “Potential Conflicts of Interest” Involving Councilwoman Pearce, Ex-Chief of Staff

The Los Angeles District Attorney’s Office is currently looking into allegations of “inappropriate behavior and potential conflicts of interest” involving Councilwoman Jeannine Pearce and her former chief of staff Devin Cotter stemming from an incident early last month, according to the Long Beach Police Department.

Early in the morning of June 3, Pearce was briefly detained by authorities investigating a possible DUI and domestic violence incident involving her and Cotter.


 

In late June, Pearce released a statement announcing that the LBPD was investigating multiple incidences of domestic violence committed against her, but did not state who the perpetrator was.


 

In a statement released yesterday, the LBPD said its criminal investigation into domestic violence allegations involving Pearce and Cotter was presented to the district attorney’s office for consideration on June 29. However, not finding enough evidence for a felony charge, the district attorney’s office then referred the case to the Long Beach City Prosecutor’s Office, where it is currently being reviewed as a misdemeanor charge.

While the LBPD was investigating alleged domestic violence, officials said the department was also made aware of information regarding events not related to the June incident.

“Pearce and Cotter have both made statements accusing each other of participating in inappropriate activity,” LBPD officials stated. “Based on this information, the Police Department initiated an investigation into these allegations, which include inappropriate behavior and potential conflicts of interest.This investigation, along with the information related to the June 3, 2017 investigation, was presented to the Los Angeles District Attorney’s Office for filing consideration.”

The case is currently under independent review with the district attorney’s office’s Public Integrity Division.

Greg Risling, a spokesperson for the district attorney’s office, confirmed the division had received the case, stating in an email to the Post that “The office’s Public Integrity Division has received an allegation against Mr. Cotter. It remains under review.”

Authorities also addressed public concerns stating that police employees may have given preferential treatment to Pearce and Cotter.

According to the statement, LBPD Chief Robert Luna initiated an Internal Affairs investigation in response to those concerns and 22 separate interviews were subsequently conducted to determine if the actions taken by LBPD employees were appropriate.

The investigation included interviews with LBPD personnel and California Highway Patrol personnel involved in the June 3 incident, as well as civilian witnesses.

Investigators also reviewed documents, reports, computer data, recordings and other relevant data, officials stated, with more than 300 hours of work spent to determine if the employees’ actions were consistent with department policies and procedures. A final case briefing was then presented to Luna and the department’s Executive Command Team.

“After thoroughly reviewing the facts and evidence presented during the final briefing, it was determined that the allegations of misconduct were unfounded, which means that the alleged misconduct did not occur,” the release stated. “A single training issue related to the review of criminal histories was identified and addressed.”

The Citizen Police Complaint Commission is also currently conducting a separate investigation into the allegations of misconduct after a formal complaint was filed related to the handling of the June 3 incident.

“The department takes all allegations of potential misconduct very seriously and consistently applies a multi-step review process to both administrative and citizen complaints,” officials stated.

While no elected official has made public comments regarding the incident, Mayor Robert Garcia expressed confidence in the investigation process by the LBPD during a press briefing Monday on a different subject matter.

“I think we have a stellar, uber-ethical police chief, so I’m very confident in the process,” Garcia said. With regard to Pearce, Garcia said that “Councilwoman Pearce is an independently-elected official to her residents in the Second District, and her and her staff and her team are accountable to her constituents.”



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