Despite the D.A. declining to prosecute Pearce, a recall committee questions her integrity

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Long Beach 2nd District Councilmember Jeannine Pearce

The day after the L.A. County District Attorney’s (D.A.) office decided on Oct. 25 not to charge Long Beach 2nd District Councilmember Jeannine Pearce with assault, battery and driving under the influence (DUI) of alcohol on June 3, the Committee Supporting the Recall of Councilmember Jeannine Pearce issued a new statement demanding her resignation.

In a subsequent press release on Oct. 30, the committee, consisting of several 2nd-District activists, further accused Pearce of “lying” on an Oct. 23 radio show about the June 3 police incident by contradicting details the D.A. later released on Oct. 25.

“She apparently was unaware that just two days [after the show], the D.A. Office would, in response to a media request, release its ‘charge evaluation worksheet’ (CEW), proving many previously unconfirmed allegations and further logical suppositions concerning the events of that night/morning,” the committee stated in its press release.

Specifically, the committee cites the contradiction between Pearce’s statement on KLBC’s “Luc & Cammie Show” that she was administered a field sobriety test (FST) as soon as Long Beach Police Department (LBPD) officers arrived at her car, which was 2:47am, according to police call logs, though the CEW states that the test was administered at 4am and a breathalyzer test at 4:20am.

“Suspect Pearce’s FSTs, that were administered at 4 in the morning, were consistent with mild impairment from alcohol,” the CEW reads. “At 420hrs, she blew a .06 [-percent blood-alcohol content] into a PAS (preliminary alcohol screening) machine.”

Pearce’s reading at that time was within the legal limit to drive in California since it was below a .08-percent blood-alcohol level.

The D.A.’s office stated it is declining all DUI charges due to insufficient evidence, especially since, it says, the PAS device used was not in compliance with performance regulations.

“Because the PAS device used in this case has questionable reliability, the prosecution cannot prove that suspect Pearce had above a .08 blood alcohol content when she was driving on 6/3/17,” the report states.

The CEW does cast some doubt on LBPD procedures by detailing why the PAS machine should not have been used and further implying that additional tests on Pearce might have allowed the D.A. to press charges.

“Officers did not obtain a second PAS sample. Suspect Pearce was never taken from the scene to the station for additional testing,” the CEW reports. “Two PAS tests or additional Intoxilyzer tests would have lent some certainty about that PAS result. But, they were not given.”

Domestic violence
The D.A. also declined to prosecute an additional charge against Pearce of two counts of domestic violence that same early morning.
During the June 3 incident, Pearce had been driving with passenger Devin Cotter, her former chief-of-staff, and had pulled over onto a median of the 710 Freeway due to an altercation between them.

The CEW states that Pearce allegedly hit Cotter’s arm while driving because he was pulling at the wheel and making the car swerve and, within 45 minutes of that, Pearce had pushed Cotter after they stopped, causing him to stumble and injure his head.

“The fall created an injury to [the] victim’s head (swelling, redness, and a laceration that developed into a black eye) and to his hands (cuts) that were visible to the many witnesses afterward,” the CEW describes.

Because Pearce and Cotter were in an admitted romantic relationship, the incident is considered domestic violence.

However, since Pearce has maintained that she acted in self-defense to her person and property, the D.A.’s office felt that they could not prove otherwise and declined to prosecute.

“CHP officers’ observations of suspect Pearce’s damaged property strewn on the roadway and of the text suspect Pearce sent to her new chief-of-staff requesting help, along with video evidence showing [the] victim yelling that he will reveal disparaging information about suspect Pearce to the press, her husband, and her employer if she did not meet certain demands while holding her car keys, support suspect Pearce’s final statement and discredit victim’s statement,” the CEW states.

The CEW further indicates that Cotter seemed to have admitted Pearce’s push was in self-defense.

“She stated that she pushed victim [Cotter] to get him to stop throwing her property out of the car,” the CEW states. “Further, [the] victim’s statement that suspect Pearce’s push was a ‘get your hands off kind of shove’ further fuels this interpretation of evidence.”

Pearce could not be reached for comment, but in an Oct. 27 social-media post, she defended her position after the D.A.’s decision to drop charges, especially since, as per media reports, she says she had been the victim of domestic violence in the months prior to the June 3 incident.

“I know my truth, and I know one night does not define me. It made me stronger, and I am painfully better for it,” she wrote. “The bottom line is women and men live in fear of seeking help for many[,] many reasons. Situations like mine often spike after seeking help.”

Despite the D.A. dropping the charges, the recall committee has renewed its demands for Pearce’s resignation, stating that her credibility has been compromised by intentionally “misleading” police officers the morning of June 3 and by openly “lying” on the Oct. 23 radio show.

The committee’s Oct. 26 press release questions, among other things: Pearce’s self-defense claim, given that she had no apparent injuries herself; her blood-alcohol level at the time she pulled over at about 1:30am, given that her blood-alcohol content at 4:20am may have been .06-percent; and the CEW description of her and Cotter as “inaccurate reporters of fact.”

“Alleged suspect Pearce and alleged victim [Cotter] have given multiple inconsistent statements,” the CEW states. “Suspect Pearce and victim [Cotter] eventually agreed about certain facts regarding the events of 6/2/17 and 6/3/17.”

The committee further cites a separate corruption investigation being conducted by the D.A.’s Public Integrity Division into Pearce and Cotter as casting doubt on Pearce’s character.

According to the committee’s statement, Cotter’s threat to Pearce on the morning of June 3, as documented in the CEW, points to deeper issues of the misuse of public funds.

“That is unadorned evidence of a relationship based on blackmail. How long between Cotter’s dismissal from Pearce’s office [!] in December 2016 and this incident in June 201[7] was Cotter extorting Pearce, and what lines did she cross to satisfy Cotter’s demands before she finally got fed up in a state of inebriation on June 3rd?” the committee asked in their statement.

In a press release two months ago, on Aug. 25, the committee had announced its formation and questioned why Cotter was kept on the Long Beach payroll when he no longer worked for the City between mid-December 2016 through February 2017, after he had incorporated a new political consulting firm, Bullhorn Consulting on Dec. 21, 2016.

Compounding the committee’s concern is that Pearce’s new chief-of-staff, Christian Kropff, is listed as chief executive officer of Bullhorn Consulting on its incorporation documents filed with the State.

In an interview with the Signal Tribune, Ian Patton, political consultant and spokesperson for the committee, described Pearce’s plight as a “complicated, tangled story.”

Patton shared with the Signal Tribune an internal memo from Pearce’s office dated Jan. 5 that had been released to the committee by the City, in which Pearce states Cotter was “taking a leave of absence to work on some political campaigns,” as he had done for Long Beach Mayor Robert Garcia’s 2014 campaign.

Patton also shared a copy of California Form 460 from Pearce’s office showing a $2,250 payment to Cotter on May 4, 2017 for “strategic policy consulting, February — April.”

Patton said in the interview that the committee was currently collecting funds from interested parties in Long Beach to launch a formal recall by the end of the year on the basis of loss of confidence in Pearce’s leadership due to these circumstances stemming from her relationship with Cotter.

The committee would need to collect 6,500 signatures on a petition from approximately 51,000 fellow 2nd-District residents in order for the recall to move forward.