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Riverside, California Police Chief Accused Of DUI In Official Car

March 24, 2010

Riverside, California Police Chief Accused Of DUI In Official Car
Police chief in Riverside, California crashes city-issued vehicle while allegedly drunk and on drugs. 

Police  Chief Russ LeachCalifornia taxpayers paid for the black 2006 Chrysler 300, including all gas and maintenance, that Riverside Police Chief Russ Leach used to drive to a strip club on Super Bowl Sunday last month. Leach is scheduled for arraignment later today for wrecking this city-issued vehicle while drunk, according to state police reports.

“During the course of my investigation, surveillance video from Club 215 in the city of Colton, California, [dashcam] video and audio recordings of the enforcement stop made by Riverside Police Department officers, and witness statements were collected and examined to determine Mr. Leach’s sobriety at the time of the incident,” California Highway Patrol Sergeant Lance C. Berns wrote in an affidavit filed with the court. “After a thorough examination of all the evidence obtained during the course of my investigation, I concluded Mr. Leach was driving under the combined influence of alcohol and drugs when he was stopped.”

In the hours before the accident, investigators concluded that leach had taken the painkiller Vicodin, the muscle relaxant Flexeril, the anti-anxiety drugs Xanax and Atarax, and the sedative Ambien. These powerful prescription pills on their own would suffice to impair driving, but Leach took the drugs in combination with three or four Miller Light beers by 8:45pm that evening, according to Leach’s fiancee. After arriving at the strip club at 9:30pm, Leach was caught on surveillance cameras pounding at least seven Chivas Regals on the rocks. Club employees and credit card receipts backed up the video evidence. According to the report, Leach staggered out of the club at some point near 2am. The police chief refused offers to arrange a taxi ride.

“After leaving Club 215, Mr. Leach struck an unknown low-profile fixed object while driving his city-issued Chrysler 300,” Berns wrote. “Due to his intoxicated state, Mr. Leach failed to recognize the extent of damage his vehicle had sustained during the collision and continued to drive for an extended time and distance. The continued operation of his vehicle resulted in near-total disintegration of the Chrysler’s left side tires/wheels and contact or induced damage to various vehicle components.”

A red light camera photographed Leach running a red light at Van Buren Boulevard and Arlington Avenue at 2:48am. Three minutes later, two Riverside officers stopped their disoriented boss who did not face sobriety or a breathalyzer testing, despite his obvious intoxication. Unlike other residents suspected of driving under the influence of alcohol (DUI), the chief was given a ride home by the officers. An anonymous tip to the mayor kicked off an investigation into the incident, the Riverside Press-Enterprise newspaper reported. Leach retired and the city has removed his image from the Riverside Police Department website.

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