Southern California -- this just in

« Previous Post | L.A. NOW Home | Next Post »

Former Riverside police chief charged with drunk driving [Updated]


Former Riverside Police Chief Russ Leach has been charged with driving under the influence of alcohol and drugs after crashing his city-owned vehicle last month, officials said Monday.

The California Highway Patrol, which investigated the incident, said Leach had four drinks at his home on Super Bowl Sunday before going to a strip club in Colton where he had at least seven more. He was taking prescription pain medication at the same time.

He later crashed his car into a "low-profile object," causing extensive damage to the car, but he kept on driving for another mile or so, officials said. Riverside police officers who responded to the accident said Leach had been drinking but they did not file any charges against him.

[Updated at 12:35 p.m.: A previous version of this post said Leach had crashed into a fire hydrant and light pole, but police are now saying they do not know what he hit.]

An internal investigation is underway to determine if the officers behaved properly or if Leach got special treatment because he was the chief. Leach, 62, resigned a few days after the accident. He said he was taking pain medication but never admitted to drinking.

The CHP also said they had a photo from a red-light enforcement camera showing Leach going through the light at about 2:24 a.m., roughly a half-hour before the crash. Leach is to be arraigned at 1:30 p.m. in Riverside on Thursday.

-- David Kelly in Riverside

Photo credit: Los Angeles Times

Comments () | Archives (26)

Sounds like he's guilty. Lying about the drinks, crashing and then continuing to drive. First make him pay the red light ticket and then give him some jail time plus whatever police punishment is necessary such as pension stripping (give it to drunk driving programs). No leniency just because he's an ex-cop.

And he ran a red light camera - Interesting how that $500 ticket NEVER got issued once they realized it was a city car that ran the light - String him up AND the police employees who covered up for him.

Good god, maybe, just maybe one of these scumbags will receive what any other citizen receives for the same offenses. Of course, the police union will pay for all his defense expenses.

As for the others who let him go; I somewhat doubt they will even get a slap on the wrists.

You forget to mention in the follow-up article that the drunk-driving police chief had days earlier put out a public statement warning the public not to drink and drive. He was warning the public not to drink and drive the very night he was drinking and driving (Superbowl Sunday wasn't it?), running a red light, hitting and running and getting a pass from his fellow officers who let him continue to drive while drunk. This is so fraught with irony its ridiculous. And this speaks to the core of police corruption. Until and unless we have police departments with police officers willing to uphold the law amongst themselves, we will never have a police departments the public can trust. "To serve and to protect" who?

"He later crashed his car....but he kept on driving for another mile or so." Well of course he did. He was way too drunk to walk!

After they convict this vile criminal. They should arrest the police scumbags that let him go without arresting him. Another example of why everyone who puts on a uniform is not a hero.

Although this guy is an idiot, the bartender(s) or waitress at the strip club in Colton are also to blame. They should have cut him off hours earlier, and the club should pay for the car damage, not the taxpayers.

If he were not a former police chief, I am sure this would not be a story. I suspect an underlying medical condition.
As a former resident of Riverside County, I want everyone to know that I moved out because of the lawlessness, corruption, and general apathy and ignorance of the people there. My condolences to the poor saps who are unable to move elsewhere.

How about the police still on the force who didn't file a report? And now they are even throwing clouds up by "not knowing what he hit" -- any civilian would be raked over the coals and then serve jail time.

Bad Cop no donut. About time.

What they would do to you under the same circumstances is what they should do to him.

Good call CHP. One less fine upstanding public welfare recipient that won't be 'Leaching' anymore paychecks from the taxpayers feeding trough.

Watch, he will walk and no follow up story.

Some of the things people say are a little short of cerebral. Pension stripping? What the hell is that?? There is no such animal in California under the circumstances. He's entitled to a PERS industrial disability retirement if his condition is supported by the medical evidence.

There is also no law against "lying about drinks." Where do you people get this stuff? There's no elements of the hit and run legislation present, so if he crashed and drove off, there's STILL no violation of law under the circumstances as to that.

This is a DUI case, plain and simple. The red light violation is part of the objective symptoms of DUI.

He's not going to go to jail. He's never been in trouble before. He won't even have to appear in court. His attorney will make all the appearances under 977 PC.

The Chief is old school ,I wish i worked for him.Party at his house ,party at the srip joint.Why is the CHP gettinng involved? What happened when we take care of our own.Not the CHP

It sounds as if conspiracy charges should be filed against the cops who let him go. They are all very fortunate that no one was injured or killed. The (former) Chief, if proven guilty, should lose his pension and spend some time in the graybar hotel.

It's incidents like this that gives drunk driving a bad name!

He looks drunk in the photo. If I was a cop, I would drink as well, lots.

This clearly shows hos drunk driving can affect one's life. He resigned from his job and his reputation is now tainted because of his negligence. I hope he doesn't get special treatment because of his rank.

Riverside holds the California state record for the most light camera tickets at a single intersection (Tyler/91), so I love it that the chief's one-car pre-retirement parade was filmed by one of his own red light cameras. When do we get to see the pictures?

Readers need to know about Snitch Tickets, which are fake/phishing red light camera tickets sent out by the police in an effort to fool the registered owner into identifying the actual driver of the car.(He doesn't have to!) In the Inland Empire, Corona, Loma Linda, Riverside and Victorville engage in this "social engineering" practice. Snitch tickets have not been filed with the court, so they don't say "Notice to Appear," don't have the court's address and phone # on them, and usually say, on the back (in small letters), "Do not contact the court about this notice." Since they have not been filed with the court, they have no legal weight whatsoever. You can, and should, ignore a Snitch Ticket. If in doubt, Google the term.

Crazy people now just because he was taking medicine he won't be charged with a thing.. That makes me so mad I'm beating up my key board just writing this. I hate how police officers break the law "legally".

Seems like one rule for us and one rule for them. Action needs to be taken here to demonstrate justice should prevail. Police Cheif Leech should have been driving on prescriction drugs anyway.

I hate when this happens, police take the law to their hands and tries to do illegal things legally, what are they thinking?

You would think that a police officer who regularly arrested people for DUI would know better. Or maybe he thought the old "cops protect their own" would come into play.

HA, a police officer booked for drunk driving, normally they just get a slap on the wrists and are let off with it.....

1 2 | »


Recommended on Facebook


In Case You Missed It...


About L.A. Now
L.A. Now is the Los Angeles Times’ breaking news section for Southern California. It is produced by more than 80 reporters and editors in The Times’ Metro section, reporting from the paper’s downtown Los Angeles headquarters as well as bureaus in Costa Mesa, Long Beach, San Diego, San Francisco, Sacramento, Riverside, Ventura and West Los Angeles.
Have a story tip for L.A. Now?
Please send to newstips@latimes.com
Can I call someone with news?
Yes. The city desk number is (213) 237-7847.


Get Alerts on Your Mobile Phone

Sign me up for the following lists: