Second District Councilwoman Says She is a Victim of Domestic Violence Weeks After Run-in with Authorities

The Long Beach Police Department is currently investigating multiple incidents of domestic violence allegedly committed against Second District Councilwoman Jeannine Pearce, she announced in a statement released through her attorney today. This announcement comes weeks after she was briefly detained by authorities investigating a possible DUI and domestic violence incident involving her and her former chief of staff Devin Cotter.

“Recently there has been both interest and speculation as it relates to my personal life,” Pearce stated in the release. “While privacy is incredibly important to me, I have always championed transparency for members of elected office. In this spirit, I am stating publicly that the Long Beach Police Department is currently investigating multiple incidences of domestic violence committed against me.”

Pearce said that since late last year she has experienced escalating threats, harassment and stalking and that the police department currently has an open investigation regarding the night of June 3—when city police were called to the Long Beach (710) Freeway, and later to her house, regarding possible DUI and domestic violence incidents.

“I want to be clear that I asked for the presence of the police officers at both scenes and I was not pulled over by law enforcement,” Pearce stated.

According to a previous statement from the LBPD, California Highway Patrol (CHP) discovered a vehicle parked in a center median, north of the Golden Shore exit, on the freeway and subsequently called city police at about 2:40AM to assist in the investigation.

The LBPD stated its officers “did not find sufficient cause for arrest related to a domestic violence incident or driving under the influence,” and said that after successfully completing a field sobriety test, Pearce, who admitted driving the vehicle, was taken home by a friend, authorities stated.

A few hours later, at about 6:00AM, Pearce was “returning home with her vehicle” when she was confronted by Cotter, according to the LBPD. Authorities said she immediately drove away and called police, who responded to her home on the 2200 block of Florida Avenue, where they located Cotter.

Cotter was arrested for public intoxication and an unrelated active $50,000 warrant for driving under the influence from a 2014 incident.


According to Cotter’s LinkedIn profile, previous to his time spent as Pearce’s chief of staff for eight months between July 2015 to February 2017, he served as campaign manager for Robert Garcia’s mayoral campaign from January 2014 to June 2015 and as legislative deputy for Mayor Robert Garcia from July 2014 to July 2016. He also served on the Yes on Measure A campaign.

When Cotter was hired by the city in July 2014, city officials were made aware of the DUI he had received and “measures were put into place, as a condition of his employment, that he would not be driving,” officials said in a previous statement. Officials also stated that the city does not receive notification of bench warrants issued for any employees and therefore it was not aware that this warrant existed during the time of his employment.

LBPD Chief Robert Luna issued a statement shortly after the incident came to light, saying that due to the ongoing criminal investigation no further details would be released regarding the incident but added that it is not department policy to treat public officials differently when they may have committed a crime.

“We are reviewing the circumstances surrounding this incident to ensure the actions taken in the field were consistent with our policies and procedures,” Luna said in his statement. “We do not have a policy directing special ‘handling’ of public officials. However, the Police Department does have a notification guide included in its policy that requires appropriate notifications be made when an incident involves the arrest or serious criminal conduct involving a city employee or VIP.”

For the city’s purposes, a VIP is defined as any person who may generate significant community and/or media attention based on the totality of the circumstances or safety assessments, according to city Public Affairs Officer Kerry Gerot.

The Citizen Police Complaint Commission is also investigating the incident in response to a complaint filed regarding LBPD’s actions on June 3, Anitra Dempsey, executive director of the CPCC, told the Post in mid-June.

“I am grateful to my colleagues on City Council for their encouragement, the many residents of Long Beach for their support, and to my daughter Jubilee’s father for being a phenomenal co-parent,” Pearce stated. “While I am still healing from this experience, I continue to serve the City of Long Beach and the Second District with great devotion.”

Editor’s note: a previous version of this story referred to Anitra Dempsey as interim deputy city manager—a former title. She is now currently serving as executive director of the Citizen Police Complaint Commission.

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Stephanie Rivera is the immigration and diversity reporter for the Long Beach Post. Growing up as one of six kids in the working-class immigrant suburb of South Gate, she was taught the importance of civic engagement and to show compassion for others. After graduating from CSULB with a degree in journalism, Stephanie worked for Patch Latino and City News Service before coming to the Long Beach Post in 2015. An avid Harry Potter fan, Stephanie now lives in Bixby Knolls with her boyfriend and their bearded dragon, Austin.