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Former Long Beach City Hall staffer arrested hours after 'heated argument' with city councilwoman

The former chief of staff for Long Beach Councilwoman Jeannine Pearce was arrested on suspicion of public intoxication as well as an outstanding warrant hours after police observed the two engaged in a "heated argument," authorities said.

Devin Cotter, 36, was arrested about 6 a.m. Saturday after a confrontation with Pearce, according to a statement released Wednesday by the Long Beach Police Department.

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Hours earlier, officers with the California Highway Patrol had approached a vehicle that was stopped on the side of the 710 Freeway after they observed a man and woman involved in a "heated argument," said Chief Chris O'Quinn, who leads the CHP's Southern Division.

O'Quinn said his officers were not aware that Pearce was an elected official when they approached the car.

The CHP officers contacted city police and "requested assistance investigating a possible domestic violence and driving under the influence incident" around 2:40 a.m., according to the Long Beach police statement.

O'Quinn did not say whether his officers observed injuries to either party, only that they "saw enough there" to contact Long Beach police. The CHP officers did not conduct a field sobriety test, but O'Quinn said his officers probably smelled alcohol in the car if they reported a possible DUI incident to Long Beach.

City police did not find "sufficient cause" to arrest either Pearce, who was the driver, or Cotter at the time, according to the statement. Pearce passed a field sobriety test at the scene, and was driven home by a friend, according to police. Cotter was taken home by Long Beach police officers.

Police said Cotter confronted Pearce later as she was returning home. He was subsequently arrested for public intoxication and on an outstanding $50,000 warrant for a previous DUI, according to the statement. A Long Beach police spokesman did not immediately respond to a request for additional information.

Cotter served as Long Beach Mayor Robert Garcia's campaign manager when he was elected in 2014, and later served as a legislative deputy to the mayor until July 2016, according to his LinkedIn page. He then left to work as Pearce's chief of staff until February 2017.

A call to Pearce and an e-mail to a spokesman for Garcia seeking comment were not immediately returned. Cotter could not be reached for comment.

Pearce was elected to the City Council last year.

Follow @JamesQueallyLAT for crime and police news in California.

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