Report: Goodyear Police Botched Death Investigation 3-31-2011 - CBS 5 - KPHO

Report: Goodyear Police Botched Death Investigation 3-31-2011

The Goodyear Police Department needs a new police chief following an independent investigation into a deadly hit and run that may have involved an on-duty officer. That investigation concluded that several high ranking officers botched the case.

It all started with a whistle blower within the police department. That whistle blower was fired shortly after coming forward. The firing triggered an investigation headed by former U.S. Attorney Paul Charlton.
It ended with resignation of Chief Mark Brown, a 21-year veteran with the department.
A police officer found Jered Pendleton's body April 6, 2008, along West Yuma road in Goodyear. Shortly after the discovery, another officer, Brad Hardin, told two sergeants he may have hit Pendleton, according to Charlton.
Charlton's investigation revealed that one of those sergeants, Deron Miller, walked to Hardin's squad car and gave it a once over. After determining there was no damage to indicate the officer hit anyone, Miller released the car back to Hardin.
Miller never reported Hardin's concerns to the case agents on scene but did tell Cmdr. Ralph McLaughlin.
The car did not go back into service until three days later when DPS took blood samples from the car and determined they were not human. However, there were marks as if the car had been cleaned.
According Charlton, there is evidence that Detective Anna Ybarra alerted Hardin that DPS was coming to test it. Hardin dated Ybarra's daughter.
The investigation shows Brown and several others knew of their officers' possible involvement and should have transferred the case to an independent agency to complete the investigation.
City Manager John Fischbach told CBS 5 News that there was no conspiracy or criminal behavior found by the investigation.
Goodyear interim chief, Bill Cusson
"I felt that I had to take immediate action and so yesterday I met with Chief Brown with the Police Department and had him review the report, and he concluded the report was very negative and submitted his resignation immediately, and I accepted it immediately," said Fischbach.
Aside from Brown, everyone else involved in the case is still working their regular job.
Interim Chief Bill Cusson said that could change after he reviews the report and completes an internal investigation.
In the meantime, there are two lawsuits right now against the city of Goodyear. One was filed by the whistle blower who was fired and the other was by Pendleton's mother, who accuses the department of trying to cover up their involvement in her son's death.
No charges have been filed in the Pendleton death investigation.
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