City to probe dispute at DUI stop


Editor’s note: This clarifies the relationship between Det. Dana Potts and the two female victims and when the collision took place.

COSTA MESA — Members of the Costa Mesa Police Assn. packed the council chambers Tuesday night, seeking disciplinary action for Planning Commissioner Jim Righeimer’s interruption of a DUI checkpoint operation last week.

Officer Allen Rieckhof, president of the police association, said to the council that a transparent investigation to show what happened last Thursday evening is imminent.

“I can assure you that an investigation will show that none of my members did anything wrong and acted professionally in the face of a man who used his appointed position and thug-like tactics to impose his will,” Rieckhof said.

While driving south on Harbor Boulevard toward Gisler Avenue, Righeimer, who is running for City Council, passed through the checkpoint. He then parked at the nearby McDonald’s and walked up to the officers asking why such operation would be conducted during evening rush.

Police contend that Righeimer tried to intimidate officers by using his position to try to shut down the operation. But Righeimer has said that he was only questioning the wisdom of holding the checkpoint during rush hour.

Grants from the California Office of Traffic Safety funded Costa Mesa’s checkpoint, an operation that is meant to remind people of the danger of drinking and driving.

One Costa Mesa police detective described how a drunk driver changed a young couple’s lives more than 20 years ago, a story that brought Councilwoman Katrina Foley to tears.

“They had their entire lives in front of them and they had a plan,” Det. Dana Potts said. “He was to go on to college to study criminal justice and become a police officer. She was going to continue college as time would allow as a new parent.”

But while heading home with her fiance, a drunk driver ran through a red light. Potts said the subsequent crash killed the young pregnant mother and her unborn daughter. He then revealed the identity of the fiancee, which startled many in the audience.

“I was the driver of the Volkswagen, and that was my daughter,” Potts said.

City Atty. Kimberly Hall Barlow said she’s conducting the investigation and will report back to the council.