The 2008 hit-and-run death of 19-year-old Jered Pendleton has never been solved.
But the fallout from the case keeps mounting.
Last year, Goodyear police Chief Mark Brown and his second in command Commander Ralph McLaughlin resigned after a scathing report on their handling of the investigation.
Pendleton's death has sparked a $1 million lawsuit by Terri Woodmansee. The former victim advocate was fired after she blew the whistle that Goodyear police officer may have struck Pendleton and the department covered it up. She sued the city, Brown, McLaughlin and her immediate supervisor at the time, Lt. Bill Cusson.
A federal district court judge recently threw out the suit against now Assistant Chief Cusson and ruled Woodmansee cannot collect for intentional emotional harm.
The judge refused to dismiss the suit against Brown and McLaughlin, stating both men "...violated the plaintiff's First Amendment right of free speech and should have known that her right was clearly established."
Goodyear is appealing this part of the ruling to the Ninth circuit.
But the biggest blow to the city came in the judge's ruling to affirm Woodmansee's status as a whistle-blower, making her protected under the law.
The decision by Helen Gillmor, a federal court judge, followed oral arguments in the case.
According to hearing transcripts, Gillmor told lawyers on both sides, "... I don't think that it's really even a close case, counsel."
The transcripts also reflect that Gillmor told attorneys for Goodyear that the case was weighing heavily against them.
"I don't think you really have a handle on how bad it looks for the defendant, given what's going on here. I mean I really don't," Gillmor said, according to transcript.
In the wake of an outside investigation into the death case, Brown resigned as police chief in March 2011.
Later, McLaughlin, the police commander who also had come under criticism, retired effective July 8, 2011.
This decision sets the stage for a possible trial in the lawsuit. Before resorting to legal action, Woodmansee filed a notice of claim with Goodyear seeking $1.2 million in damages.
Goodyear would not comment on the ruling sighting ongoing litigation.
Woodmansee said, "I believe justice is being served and will be served in the future."
Copyright 2012 CBS5 (Meredith Corporation). All rights reserved.
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