Deputy Pearce won't be charged in on-duty fatal crash - CBS 5 - KPHO

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Deputy Pearce won't be charged in on-duty fatal crash

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John Edward Harding, 63, died after his Nissan Cube was struck by an unmarked Maricopa County sheriff's SUV in December. (Source: Greg Argos, CBS 5 News file photo) John Edward Harding, 63, died after his Nissan Cube was struck by an unmarked Maricopa County sheriff's SUV in December. (Source: Greg Argos, CBS 5 News file photo)
Nohemi Harding, the victim's widow, speaks to CBS 5 News. (Source: CBS 5 News) Nohemi Harding, the victim's widow, speaks to CBS 5 News. (Source: CBS 5 News)
GLENDALE, AZ (CBS5) -

A Maricopa County Sheriff's deputy won't face criminal charges for his part in a high-speed crash that killed a driver.

Prosecutors said Deputy Sean Pearce won't face a manslaughter charge in the Dec. 16 crash that killed 63-year-old John Edward Harding, of Glendale.

He said a vehicle that was turning ahead of the victim's SUV had blocked the view of the victim and Pearce.

"When you watch the (surveillance) video just before the Cube leaves from its position at the stop sign, you've got a vehicle that's turning left right at the point when either the Tahoe or the Cube is able to see one another and take any sort of evasive action. That's an additional factor," said Maricopa County Attorney Bill Montgomery.

Pearce, a 20-year veteran of the MCSO and the son of former state Sen. Russell Pearce, was driving an unmarked Maricopa County Sheriff's Office SUV and traveling 41 mph faster than the speed limit seconds before it T-boned a Nissan Cube and killed the driver.

A crash reconstruction by the Glendale Police Department showed Sean Pearce was going 81 mph in a 40 mph zone just prior to slamming on his brakes and colliding with the Cube driven by Harding, according to a Glendale police report obtained by CBS 5 News.

Sean Pearce and Deputy David Parra were in separate unmarked vehicles and responding to a report that a murder suspect was on the move.

Sean Pearce told investigators he thought he was going about 55 mph in the center northbound lane of 59th Avenue and had no traffic in front of him, and then he saw Harding's vehicle enter the intersection of Hayward Avenue.

Sean Pearce said he locked up the brakes on the SUV but was unable to avoid the collision, according to the report.

"It's conduct that's so extreme and outrageous here that it's very difficult for me to get my head around why there aren't criminal charges here," said attorney Marc Victor, who is representing Harding's family. Victor says the family plans to file a civil lawsuit against the county and MCSO. 

Harding's widow, Nohemi Harding, told CBS 5 News she wants justice for her husband. 

"I don't know what he was thinking," she said. "I mean, he's the king of the road or what? He can do anything he wants because he's a policeman?"

Parra was following behind, saw the collision and stopped at the crash scene, according to the report.

Neither sheriff's vehicle was equipped with emergency lights, according to the report.

John Harding died at a nearby hospital. He is survived by his wife and a son.

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