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Former Fullerton Police Chief Dan Hughes said Monday the investigation of ex-City Manager Joe Felz’ election night car crash was handled in a way that considered “objectivity.”
“Especially in the city of Fullerton… those type of incidents are going to, what I describe, blow up. No matter what that decision made, regarding the outcome of the case. There will be allegations, conspiracy theories,” Hughes said
In the early morning of Nov. 9, after attending election night parties, Felz crashed his minivan within a half a mile of his house in a residential neighborhood north of downtown.
He drove over a curb and into a tree. A witness called police as Felz reportedly tried to drive away. When police arrived, they said they smelled alcohol on Felz but did not give him a breathalyzer test and drove him home, according to a memo from Hughes. In March, the District Attorney’s office charged Felz with driving under the influence.
Hughes said the Fullerton Police Department conducted an investigation of the crash and “it’s that investigation and my notifying the District Attorneys office and requesting them to investigate that led to him … ultimately being charged”
Hughes, testifying at an unrelated public nuisance hearing in the City Council chambers, was asked if Felz got favorable treatment.
“What was special about this was that it involved our city manager. So, in cases that involve a city councilmember, city manager, another city employee … those are cases that generally speaking they would wake a police chief up and let them know about that,” Hughes said, adding that he explained the protocol to Felz.
Hughes said if the police supervisor thought Felz was over the legal alcohol limit after preliminary sobriety tests, they “were going to push the pause button and we would call the CHP or a neighboring agency to come and handle the investigation.”
The goal is to provide “some objectivity,“ he said, “especially in the city of Fullerton, where there seems to be such anti-government conspiracy theories from folks that have some emotional issues or some mental issues.”
When attorneys asked why there was no breathalyzer or urine tests administered to Felz, the hearing officer cut them off and cited irrelevance to the public nuisance case.
Spencer Custodio is a Voice of OC intern. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.