Bever alleges police intimidation

He and fellow Righeimer supporter say officers gave them dirty looks, maybe took pictures of them while they hung signs.

October 16, 2010|By Joseph Serna,
  • Eric Bever, middle, and Chris Eric, right, attend a news conference at 17th and Superior in Cosa Mesa.
Eric Bever, middle, and Chris Eric, right, attend a news… (DON LEACH, Daily…)

COSTA MESA — On top of negative campaign mailers, a website and mobile billboard decrying Costa Mesa City Council candidate Jim Righeimer, on-duty police are also trying to intimidate his supporters out on the streets, Councilman Eric Bever asserted at a news conference Saturday.

In what Bever called a "chilling" incident, he and a fellow Righeimer supporter Chris Eric said two officers in a police cruiser drove by them three times on Thursday, gave them dirty looks and possibly took pictures of them while they put up signs supporting Righeimer at 17th Street and Superior Avenue.

"They gave me hard look," Eric said. "The stink eye."

Bever said this was the first time he thought he was under surveillance and felt intimidated by officers.

"I've really only been following (Costa Mesa) politics since 1998," Bever said. "I don't recall anything quite this drastic. Certainly, there have been different factions that pull a last string during election time, but I've never seen the unions get so nasty."


The Costa Mesa Police Assn., representing rank-and-file officers, sergeants and non-sworn employees, has focused all of its attention this campaign season on opposing Righeimer's run for a council.

Months ago, Righeimer, a planning commissioner, flatly told police and fire employees during a debate that he would go after their pay and pensions should he get elected because he blames them for state and local budget woes.

If officers in uniform, in a city vehicle and using a city camera were trying to intimidate Bever and Eric, they would be breaking the law, said attorney Mark Bucher, who is representing Bever and is Righeimer's brother-in-law.

But police denied any on-duty politicking.

"I've told them 'if you're going to do anything, if you're going to talk to somebody, you're going to do it off-duty,'" Assn. President Allen Rieckhof said. "'You're not going to conduct politics on duty'…they all know not to do it."

Righeimer's camp called a news conference at the scene of the alleged incident Saturday. Standing on the vacant lot on the southwest corner of 17th and Superior, Bucher called for an investigation into who the officers were, who the camera belonged to, and why they were in the area at that time.

Righeimer said if the allegations are true, they're disturbing.

"You cannot have people not trusting your police officers," he said.

"Maybe it was Bever's perception that this occurred and not the officers' intent," Rieckhof countered.

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