Long Beach Councilwoman’s Ex-Chief of Staff Arrested After Weekend Incident; LBPD Investigation Ongoing

Devin Cotter, former chief of staff for Second District Councilwoman Jeannine Pearce, was arrested Saturday on an outstanding warrant for a previous driving under the influence conviction.
Second District Councilwoman Jeannine Pearce was briefly detained by authorities and her former chief of staff Devin Cotter was subsequently arrested after a series of incidents over the weekend that began with a request from the California Highway Patrol to the Long Beach Police Department to assist in an investigation into a possible domestic violence and driving under the influence stop on the 710 Freeway.

On Saturday, June 3 at 2:40AM, California Highway Patrol (CHP) officials called the Long Beach Police Department (LBPD) for assistance investigating a possible domestic violence and driving under the influence incident, according to a statement from the LBPD.
According to the statement, CHP discovered a parked vehicle facing southbound in the painted center median, north of the Golden Shore exit, on the Long Beach (710) Freeway.
The female driver—identified as Pearce—and the male passenger, Cotter, were being detained at the location by CHP, authorities said. Both Pearce and Cotter are 36 and live in Long Beach.
When Long Beach police arrived, CHP officers informed them that they were unsure if a crime was committed and asked LBPD to investigate further, according to the LBPD’s statement.
A spokesperson from the CHP said that because the matter wasn’t followed through to the end by the department no incident report was filed by its officers. They added that it was unclear how long the officers stayed on scene and that any dashcam footage from the CHP cruiser would require a subpoena to be released.
The Los Angeles Times reported Wednesday night that the responding CHP officers had “seen enough” to warrant a request from the LBPD to assist in a possible domestic violence investigation. The statement was attributed to CHP Assistant Chief Chris O’Quinn, who leads the CHP’s Southern Division. The article also cited O’Quinn as saying that the CHP officers most likely smelled alcohol in the vehicle, which prompted their concerns for a potential DUI 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 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 an incident that occurred in 2014. 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, Cotter served as campaign manager for Robert Garcia’s mayoral campaign from January 2014 to June 2015 and as his legislative deputy for Mayor Robert Garcia from July 2014 to July 2016. He also served on the Yes on Measure A campaign.
When reached Wednesday Pearce did not make a statement for the record but has told other media outlets that the issue is a private family matter and that she is cooperating with the authorities fully.
LBPD Chief Robert Luna issued a statement late Wednesday night saying that due to the ongoing criminal investigation that 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.”

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Jason Ruiz covers City Hall and politics for the Long Beach Post.