Goodyear police chief out amid critical report

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By Alicia Barron By Alicia Barron

GOODYEAR, Ariz. - Goodyear Police Chief Mark Brown has called it quits six months before he was scheduled to retire. His resignation comes days after the release of a report that finds Brown failed in his duty as a leader of the department.

The report criticized the department's handling of a hit-and-run case in which 18-year-old Jered Pendleton was killed in April 2008. The case remains unsolved.

Pendleton was found dead on an isolated roadway by a Goodyear sergeant. Another Goodyear officer, Brad Hardin, had traveled the roadway shortly before the discovery. Hardin reported to his supervisor that he believed he had perhaps hit Pendleton, although that has never been substantiated.

According to the report, Hardin's car was not seized for investigation until days after his admission. The report also faults Brown for failing to transfer the case to an outside police agency.

The independent report was commisioned by the city of Goodyear and completed by  former U.S. Attorney Paul Charlton. It finds Brown and other members of department leadership failed to properly handle the case after Hardin's admission.

The report finds no evidence of a broad conspiracy or cover-up within the organization, but found, "lack of decisive actions by department leadership."

After reading the report, Brown told City Manager John Fiscbach, "This is really a difficult report. I don't think I have any choice but to submit my resignation immediately."

Several other members of Goodyear police are cited in the report but remain with the department.

Cmdr. Bill Cusson has been named interim police chief while the city conducts a nationwide search for Brown's replacement.

Pendleton's family is suing the city of Goodyear for more than $9 million, alleging wrongful death and a cover-up.

Shay Pendleton could not comment on the report because of the pending litigation, but said, "We're on the right path." 

She plans to hold a memorial for her son on Saturday to commemorate the third anniversary of his death, and what would have been his 21st birthday.