Goodyear commander placed on leave pending investigations

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By Natalie Flanzer By Natalie Flanzer

GOODYEAR, Ariz. - Another member of the Goodyear police force is in trouble over an investigation into leadership issues within the department.

This shake up in the Goodyear Police Department is related to the accusations made three years ago that an officer killed a teen in a fatal hit and run and the department covered it up.

Cmdr. Ralph McLaughlin has been place on paid administrative leave until the investigations are completed.

McLaughlin has been with Goodyear police for 18 years.

A report, by attorney Paul Charlton, blames McLaughlin for leadership failures associated with the investigation of a 2008 fatal hit and run accident.

“I was tasked by the city manager to review the findings of the Charlton report and I'm still doing that,” said Interim Police Chief Bill Cusson. “After review of the report, coupled with some other investigations it was determined to be in the city's and department's best interest that he be removed from position and put on paid administrative leave.”

The Charlton report, citing serious leadership issues within the department commissioned by the city, prompted several other independent investigations.

No interim commander will be appointed during McLaughlin's leave.

Interim Police Chief Bill Cusson will handle McLaughlin's duties and responsibilities for the time being.

The City of Goodyear is not releasing any additional details in these ongoing investigations.

McLaughlin is the 4th officer in the Goodyear Police Department to be disciplined as a result of their handling of the hit-and-run case in which 18-year-old Jered Pendleton was killed in April 2008. The case remains unsolved.

Back on March 31, former Goodyear Police Chief Mark Brown called it quits six months before he was scheduled to retire. His resignation came days after the release of the report that found Brown failed in his duty as a leader of the department.

There have been accusations that Goodyear Officer Brad Hardin fatally struck Pendleton and the department covered it up.

The Charlton report found no cover up conspiracy but found several officers acted individually to protect one of their own.

The report specifically criticizes McLaughlin and the department for not handing the case over to another agency for review.

“There are several ongoing investigations I can't speak to at this time,” said Cusson.

The interim chief said it could be another four to six weeks before the investigations and reviews are complete. More officers could be disciplined when they finalize the additional investigations.

The attorney for Jered Pendleton’s family said they hope anyone who engaged in any sort of misconduct regarding this case will be appropriately held accountable.