From: The Press-Enterprise
By: Special to the Press-Enterprise, 7/08/2010
The Riverside police lieutenant who drove home his drunken police chief without arrest has been demoted, sources said Wednesday.
Leon Phillips, who also faces a two-week suspension for his actions following Russ Leach’s Feb. 8 traffic stop, will now be ranked sergeant. The city had originally served the 28-year veteran with a notice of their intent to terminate him. As he awaited the decision by the city, he had been transferred to the department’s personnel and training division.
Sources who confirmed the city’s actions requested anonymity because of laws barring release of police personnel records.
Phillips, who was promoted to lieutenant in 2008, did not return a call Wednesday.
His attorney, Ken Yuwiler, said he was unable to confirm any action against his client but said they would appeal any action taken by the city.
At the time Leach was pulled over, Phillips was an overnight watch commander.
In a California Highway Patrol report on Leach’s stop, Phillips told investigators that he didn’t immediately suspect his chief had been drinking — though Riverside police officers found him driving a heavily damaged city car without knowledge of his surroundings. It was later revealed the chief consumed 11 drinks and five prescription drugs prior to his drive.
Ultimately, Assistant Chief John De La Rosa declined to respond to the scene from his home and conferred with Phillips on the decision to drive Leach home without a sobriety test. Leach pleaded guilty in late March to misdemeanor DUI and medically retired. De La Rosa will retire later this month.
City leaders, without singling out Phillips or De La Rosa, have said that responsibility for the botched handling of Leach fell solely on police management.