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Mesa Councilman Ryan Winkle taking 'leave of absence' after alleged DUI

Posted at 4:18 PM, May 17, 2017

Mesa Councilman Ryan Winkle announced Wednesday that he would take a voluntary leave of absence and seek counseling following a DUI arrest.

Winkle was arrested earlier in May for a DUI after he was pulled over by Tempe police for nearly running a red light and hitting pedestrians. Police also say he was seen swerving while driving before being pulled over.

Winkle apologized to voters and to his fellow council members, and city hall staff at a press conference on Wednesday afternoon.

"I am so sorry for what I have done. I am overwhelmed with guilt. I realize someone could have been hurt. I could have hurt my wife Ericka, mi amor, very sorry.  Thinking about my son not having a mother tortures me in my sleep," said a tearful Winkle.

He declined to answer media questions after his statement.

In a Facebook Live interview with independent journalist Mary Rabago, Winkle said he hoped voters would give him a second chance, and pledged to work as hard as he could.

Winkle said he and his wife were enrolling in treatment counseling, and talking to the liquor industry about starting an awareness campaign using real people, to prevent people from making the decision he did.

In body camera video released by Tempe police, you can hear Ericka Winkle telling officers she could not believe they would arrest the only councilman who had supported their union.

In the interview with Rabago, she issued a tearful apology.

"I love my husband, I support my husband.  I was being protective.  I just couldn't see him in handcuffs and that's what I did."

Winkle's attorney John Phebus tells ABC15 they are fully cooperating with authorities. A pre-trial conference is set to take place on June 14th.

Blood samples were submitted as part of the East Valley DUI Task Force at their command post nearby and results have not been made available yet.

Winkle was given a criminal citation for DUI and released at the scene.

Mesa Mayor John Giles also said the Mesa City Council will discuss the matter during their regular study session on Thursday morning.

"I like Ryan. He ran a great, grassroots campaign and works hard for his constituents," Giles said. "But Ryan made a serious mistake that comes with serious consequences. My hope is that he carefully considers what is best for himself, his family and the community."

Winkle did not specify how long his leave of absence will be.