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Former Riverside police chief drank 4 whiskeys before accident, lawyer says

Just a few hours before crashing his city-owned vehicle last week, former Riverside Police Chief Russ Leach had been drinking at a strip club in Colton, according to a lawyer for the club and surveillance video.

Leach went into the topless Club 215 in Colton at 10:24 p.m. Feb. 7 and drank four Chivas Regal Scotch whiskeys, ate chicken wings and left at 1:48 a.m., said club attorney Roger Jon Diamond.

"He was very dignified and behaved himself," Diamond said. "He was eating and drinking by himself, but he did interact with other people."

Diamond said that Leach spent some time with one of the dancers and that investigators interviewed the woman, along with the bartender and manager.

"When he drove off, he did not appear to be driving erratically," he said.

The club turned over the video to the California Highway Patrol, which is investigating the crash that occurred about 3 a.m. near Central and Hillside avenues in Riverside. According to the police report, Leach's car went the wrong way down a street and struck a curb. The black Chrysler 300, its front tires shredded to the rims, went on to hit a light pole and a fire hydrant.

Leach drove three more miles before coming to a stop. When Riverside police arrived, they said, Leach was unaware that he had been in an accident. Their report said he repeatedly talked of having a flat tire. They also noted that he had been drinking but made no mention about whether a sobriety test was given.

Leach, 61, later said he was on prescription drugs and "disoriented" at the time of the accident. He resigned last week and the city has launched an investigation, overseen by City Manager Brad Hudson and former Riverside County Dist. Atty. Grover Trask, to determine whether police responded to the accident appropriately or whether Leach was given preferential treatment.

Leach could not immediately be reached for comment.

Diamond said CHP investigators had been to Club 215 several times in the last few days to interview anyone who might have interacted with Leach that night.

"I don't know how they found out he had been there, but when they asked we cooperated with them," Diamond said.

Cameras inside the club and in the parking lot caught Leach coming and going. The bartender reported later that Leach did not appear drunk, and the fourth drink, Diamond said, was watered down. Most of the time, Leach was alone at the club, which sits along the 215 Freeway.

"He had two separate bar tabs," Diamond said. "The first was for $30 and he left $40, and the second bill was $22 and he left a $20 tip."

Diamond would not comment on whether Leach was a club regular.

"We are caught in the middle," he said. "We want to cooperate with the CHP, but we don't want to go out of our way to violate any patron's privacy."

Investigators are still trying to fill in the gap between when Leach left Club 215 and when the accident occurred.

"We are not giving out any further information until we are done with the investigation," said Lt. Dave Lane, a spokesman for the CHP. "We are following up on every lead and every fact. It would not be fair to put out wrong information either for or against Mr. Leach. We owe him that and we owe the public the absolute truth."

The CHP is hoping to conclude its investigation in about a week.

-- David Kelly and Alexandra Zavis

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Comments () | Archives (10)

Bad cops who were at the scene and gave him no drunk test. They should be terminated for less than professional behavior.


No sobriety check? No blood for drug test?
There you have in a nutshell the whole corrupt law enforcement mafia of california.

There will never be any charges and the report will say that no one is responsible, especially a corrupt cop.

4 drinks for 84.00, that proves he is a dunce.

At least he was dignified and behaved himself. It still doesn't excuse what he did. The responding officers need to be reprimanded somehow, but I am not holding my breath. I don't think they need to investigate whether or not he got preferential treatment. It's pretty obvious to us regular folk that he did. Any other average citizen dumb enough to pull a similar stunt would have been thrown in jail immediately. oh, and a 1.75L bottle of Chivas Regal Scotch is $49.99 at one of the liquor emporiums. He over-paid for his. I hope it was worth it.

I'm not an expert but, shouldn't he be in jail until either he posts bail or proven innocent beyond reasonable doubt? What do we (citizens) need to do to get special privileges like this?

It is fortunate that the investigation will be over soon. It will be then determined whether Leach actually committed negligence at that time. If he did, he will face the consequences of his actions, just like what any other person would have done.

Attorney Roger Diamond's comment "We want to cooperate with the CHP, but we don't want to go out of our way to violate any patron's privacy," is so blatantly false, it's not even funny.

He might as well have said "I'm not saying but I'm saying."

I have no sympathy for anyone who drives while intoxicated, and the "patron's privacy" is completely non-existent made-up typical defense attorney tactic.

All Diamond did was tell the press what the staff at the strip club told the cops. The former Chief of Police paid for four whiskeys (probably doubles at those prices). If he drank them, then that is equal to .16% Blood Alcohol Content in an average male, as any expert will tell you. That's twice the legal limit of .08%.

The Chief should have been arrested for DUI and hit and run, but the position of the cops who found him was very difficult. They have a right not to be put in that position, to expect their boss to do one of two things; either not drink and drive, or when his has been drinking and driving and is stopped, to fess up. Set an example, and say "I'm DUI, arrest me."

A cop should behave more responsible . Drinking car accident destroys many family . we should not killed innocent pedestrian or our self ,for few glass of drinks.

My only question is: is he married? If he is married, I don't think his wife is a happy camper right now. Got busted!

Drinking alone at a strip club. That is really depressing. Once he has paid his legal penalties, I hope his life improves.


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