A video shows Mesa City Councilman Ryan Winkle and his wife, Ericka Varela, after they were pulled over by Tempe police May 7, 2017 on suspicion of DUI. The Tempe Police Department blurred this video before releasing it. Hannah Gaber/azcentral.com
A day after police released body-camera footage of Mesa Councilman Ryan Winkle’s arrest on suspicion of DUI, Mayor John Giles confirmed that the City Council will meet to discuss “concerns” about whether Winkle can carry out his council duties.
“I like Ryan. He ran a great, grassroots campaign and works hard for his constituents. But Ryan made a serious mistake that comes with serious consequences,” Mayor John Giles said in a statement released Friday evening. “My hope is that he carefully considers what is best for himself, his family and the community.”
Giles said the council will discuss “concerns about Ryan’s ability to carry out his responsibilities as a member of the City Council with these charges pending,” at a council study session on Thursday at 7:30 a.m.
Winkle, a first-time councilman elected last year, was arrested early Sunday morning in Tempe.
In the body-camera video of his arrest, a Tempe police officer told Winkle he watched him nearly hit three pedestrians who were crossing the street near Baseline and Kyrene roads.
In the video, Winkle is shown failing to comprehend and perform three field sobriety tests. His wife, the sole passenger in the car, asked officers to let the couple go because of Winkle’s support for public safety.
Other Mesa City Council members commented on WInkle’s arrest on Facebook.
Councilman Kevin Thompson wrote, “All elected officials should be held to a higher standard. Period. But every citizen deserves due process, and our colleague is no different. We all make mistakes and ultimately until a court or voters decide otherwise, we have to respect the process.”
Thompson said he doesn’t expect Winkle “to receive any special treatment that any other individual in the same situation would receive.”
Councilman David Luna wrote, “I also join my colleagues on the Mesa City Council in asking Ryan to carefully consider what is best for his family and community.”
Councilman Jeremy Whittaker posted, “The amount of positive things Ryan Winkle has done for this community are countless. At times, I envy the amount of things he has done for this community. However, the recent events I do not take lightly. Every person in this country is afforded the right of due process. Council members are held to a high standard as leaders of the community.”
Whittaker said he hopes “this process is expedited as quickly as possible so we can continue to move our city forward.”
Another council member, Mark Freeman, said he agreed with the mayor’s assessment.
“My colleagues and I take this matter seriously and will give it the utmost attention when we meet on Thursday,” he told The Arizona Republic.
Reached by phone Friday, Winkle declined comment but said he plans to attend and participate in the meeting on Thursday.
He previously gave this statement: “During a traffic stop early Sunday morning in Tempe, I was processed and cited for Driving Under the Influence. I understand that this is a very serious matter, and I am cooperating fully with the Tempe Police Department in every way possible.
“Since this is an ongoing legal matter, I will not be making any further statements at this time.”
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