This blog has written countless stories about the sordid tale of former Fullerton City Manager Joe Felz’s Wild Ride back on Election Night 2016 when he hit a tree and allegedly attempted to flee the scene of the crime.
This blog actually filed a complaint with the city which led to the firing of Sergeant Jefferey Corbett who is now facing a felony rap over this incident.
For context we also wrote about when former Chief Danny Hughes said the following at a nuisance hearing back in 2017 (emphasis added):
“When there is a, especially in the city of Fullerton, where there is somebody, whether it be a City Council Member or in this particular case the City Manager, those types of incidents are gonna, what I would describe, blow up. No matter what that decision is made regarding the outcome of that case there there will be allegations and conspiracy theories and all sorts of information that comes from that.”
Really we’ve been watching this story since it started and now we have some salient details to share with you good citizens. So let us put Hughes’ conspiracy take to the test.
Here is FPD’s version of the actual events that happened on election night 2016 starting with what Officer Gibert told the investigators tasked with looking into the complaint against the FPD handling of the Joe Felz DUI incident (emphasis added):
“Gibert said he had six and a half years of experience as a police officer. Gibert said he had conducted approximately 700 D.U.I. investigations and assisted in an additional 150 to 200 D.U.I. investigations. Gibert acknowledged that he was taught to enforce the law without any favor.”
I asked Gibert to tell me what he recalled regarding his involvement from the collision investigation involving former City Manager, Joe Felz. Gibert told me the following:”
The radio call was of a vehicle collision. While Gibert was on his way to the location, dispatch advised the vehicle was trying to leave the scene. Gibert was the first officer on-scene and as he arrived, he saw the vehicle travelling west bound. The vehicle appeared to be disabled, but was still partially moving. Gibert then initiated a vehicle stop and as a result, the vehicle came to a halt. As he was exiting his unit, the vehicle began to move again. Gibert put his unit back into drive not knowing if the vehicle was going to try to leave. They moved a very short distance and came to a complete stop. Gibert then placed the front of his police unit bumper up against the vehicle’s rear bumper in case he tried to flee again. Gibert explained that he tried to pin his unit up against the vehicle so the suspect would not endanger any civilians; this also positioned Gibert to possibly conduct a P.I.T. maneuver if it were necessary.”
At that point in time, the vehicle stopped. Gibert believed Corporal Jim Boline was next on–scene and walked up on his passenger side. They ordered the driver (Joe Felz) out of the vehicle. Gibert had the Felz facing away from him. As Gibert placed Felz’s hands behind his back, he identified himself as Fullerton City Manager, Joe Felz. Gibert stopped his investigation or any questioning at that time and had Felz sit on the front bumper of his police unit. Gibert then requested for a Sergeant to respond to the location.“
But then, oddly these bits come out:
“As he was handling the traffic collision, he chose to not mark “hit and run” on the form because of the distance from Felz’s vehicle to where the initial collision occurred.”
He had to do force the vehicle to stop and prepare for a P.I.T. maneuver but didn’t consider it a hit and run? That makes little to no sense.
That then compounds another problem:
“I asked Gibert if he was aware of the email sent by C.S.I. Technician Victoria Mayhew to Lieutenant Mike Chocek. Gibert said he was not familiar with the email. As a result, I read him the content of the email. Gibert commented by stating the portion of the email involving him was accurate. Once Mayhew arrived on scene, Gibert told her to just photograph the damaged tree. Gibert said he was trying to limit the exposure of how many people were involved with this case. Gibert stated that C.S.I. would not normally photograph the vehicle since this was not a hit and run investigation.”
Gibert, with 700 DUI investigations under his belt, saw Felz try to flee a scene and smelled alcohol on the suspect. Owing to Felz’s position of authority a Sergeant was called. That Sergeant was Jeffery Corbett.
“On September 7, 2017, FPD Records personnel performed a CAD search to reveal how many DUI investigations Sergeant Jeff Corbett conducted within the last 5 years. Zero investigations were located.“
For a DUI investigation an Officer with 700 DUI investigations was replaced by one with 0 in five years. In fact, Corbett wasn’t even certified as a Drug Recognition Expert according to Officer Franke:
“Corbett was decertified as a D.R.E. because he did not submit the required recertification paperwork to Sacramento. To Franke’s knowledge, Corbett has not attempted to get recertified as a D.R.E. since then.”
Everything Corbett did looks to have been wrong and done simply to not collect evidence.
“In regards to the Walk & Turn test, Franke’s overall feeling was as if Corbett was conducting a cursory, “Lets hurry up and get this done; I want to see what you’re able to do and not do” type of investigation.”
“According to Franke, it would have been fair for the people of California to see if Felz was or was not intoxicated. It would have also offered the opportunity to offer exculpatory evidence that would have been fair to Felz. What Corbett did on scene, was a “Gross deviation” of the training he received in the past from Franke and the D.R.E. Program. Franke stated that it seemed as though the test was stopped to prevent any more incriminating evidence to be revealed.”
It goes on to explain what Corbett did and why he claims to have done it and here are the big takeaways (emphasis added):
“I then asked what Corbett meant when he told Officer Haid, “Nobody has done any FSTs, nobody’s done a breathalyzer, so technically we don’t have to go deuce, we can just a do a TC and drive him back.” Corbett said he had already spoken to the Watch Commander (Lieutenant Goodrich) and Chief Hughes at that point and he was explaining to Haid that he was not aware what part of the incident was to be handled by Fullerton PD. Corbett added that he did in fact know that Fullerton PD was at least going to handle the traffic collision report portion of the incident. I asked Corbett to elaborate on what he meant because his answer was not directly answering my question, nor was it making sense. Corbett then added that he was trying not to reveal too much too Haid of what he and Chief Hughes spoke about via telephone. At that point in the interview, I told Corbett that phone records indicated his conversation with Haid was in fact after his first call to Goodrich, but before his calls to Chief Hughes. Corbett then said that did not change anything because he was still waiting on a call back to see what direction the Chief wanted the investigation to take.“
“I asked why it took approximately 1-hour to start the FSTs. Corbett replied stating that the back and forth phone calls caused the delay in having Felz start the tests. I asked Corbett when he last conducted a DUI investigation on his own. Corbett said about 1-year prior to the incident.”
“Sergeant Corbett said no he was not trained that way, but was only asked by Chief Hughes to obtain a preliminary assessment and that’s why he only had Joe Felz do those two tests.“
“Sergeant Corbett stated that he specifically remembered Chief Hughes requesting either a “couple” or a “few” tests for the “assessment”. I asked Sergeant Corbett if he interpreted that as two tests and he said yes.”
“I asked Corbett if he had knowledge of the on-scene officers’ expertise as it relates to D.U.I. investigations. Corbett stated yes, but Chief Hughes instructed him to be the lead.“
“I asked Corbett if he remembered asking Joe Felz if he had recently been drinking alcohol that morning and he said yes. I asked Corbett if he could remember Joe Felz’s response and it was, “Yes.” Corbett said he asked this question because he could actually smell alcohol on Felz’s breath. I then asked why Corbett did not have any follow-up questions after Joe Felz admitted to have consumed alcohol. Corbett again stressed that he was not conducting a full D.U.I. investigation and only wanted to obtain basic information to report back the Chief Hughes. I then asked Corbett why he didn’t ask Joe Felz if he had been drinking prior to the two tests he had him perform. Corbett again said he did not ask Joe Felz prior to the FSTs because he was only asked to do a preliminary assessment.”
“I then asked if Corbett has ever terminated his questioning after asking the subject if they had been drinking like he did with Felz in the past. Corbett did not directly answer my question and again said he was only asked by Chief Hughes to get a physical assessment.“
“I asked Corbett if he remembered turning the 502 form in with the police report and he responded by saying that there was “no need to.” I asked Corbett to explain why he thought it was not necessary to turn in the form. Corbett said it was irrelevant because there was no arrest. I asked if Corbett still had the 502 form or if he discarded it. Corbett said it was discarded.”
“I asked why there was a delay in Corbett downloading his body-worn-camera and he did not recall or explain why that occurred.”
“I asked Corbett if he remembered showing Chief Hughes a printed copy of his police report draft. I asked why he showed the report to Hughes prior to it being sent through the normal Versadex chain. Corbett said Chief Hughes requested it. I asked if it was normal operating procedure for him to show a draft of the police report on a Word document as opposed to submitting it via the internal report database (Versadex). Corbett said it was normal because that is how it was requested by Chief Hughes.”
“Corbett wanted to make it clear that his actions were just a “preliminary assessment” of Joe Felz’s intoxication level. Corbett said that if he was conducting a full D.U.I. investigation, he would have had Felz perform more tests and the 502 form would have been completed which included all associated questions found on the form. Corbett did not go that route because he was directed by Chief Hughes who only wanted a simple “assessment of Felz’ intoxication level”. Corbett was asked by Chief Hughes to perform a couple tests and that’s what he did. Once Corbett obtained the assessment, he called Chief Hughes to relay the information. Corbett then was waiting to see if he was going to handle the rest of the investigation or relinquish the incident to another agency. Corbett again said that he would have done more if he was told to investigate further.“
Read the whole report HERE.
It certainly reads like Danny Hughes misled the city council at the very least and orchestrated the Felz cover-up from the start.
Hughes claimed in his letter to council the following:
“I informed the Watch Commander that I would call the sergeant to obtain additional information and that I would have the field sergeant conduct a preliminary assessment by performing Field Sobriety Tests and if the sergeant believed there was a level of intoxication that met the criteria to be a violation of the law, we would contact the CHP to investigate.”
The CHP were not contacted and Sergeant Corbett did not conduct a full investigation.