Paradise Valley family continues to question deadly crash investigation

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The Brown family is upset over the handling of the investigation of when Howard Brown was hit by a driver in 2015. (Source: 3TV) The Brown family is upset over the handling of the investigation of when Howard Brown was hit by a driver in 2015. (Source: 3TV)
Howard Brown was hit by 20-year-old Paige Dembow. (Source: 3TV) Howard Brown was hit by 20-year-old Paige Dembow. (Source: 3TV)
Paige Dembow is the daughter of Paul Dembow, who was then the vice mayor of Paradise Valley. (Source: 3TV) Paige Dembow is the daughter of Paul Dembow, who was then the vice mayor of Paradise Valley. (Source: 3TV)
Police reports show Paige was never given a breathalyzer, and her blood was not tested. (Source: 3TV) Police reports show Paige was never given a breathalyzer, and her blood was not tested. (Source: 3TV)
"I don't understand. You have an interlock in your car and they don't check you for [drugs]," asked the victim's widow, Judy Brown. (Source: 3TV) "I don't understand. You have an interlock in your car and they don't check you for [drugs]," asked the victim's widow, Judy Brown. (Source: 3TV)
PARADISE VALLEY, AZ (3TV/CBS 5) -

A Paradise Valley family continues to believe a politician's daughter received special treatment by officers after a deadly crash.

In November of 2015, 77-year-old Howard Brown was hit and killed while walking the family dog.

He was crossing the road near the Brown home at the corner of Invergordon and Horseshoe Roads when he was hit by 20-year-old Paige Dembow.

"Not only are we grieving, we're trying to fight for justice while we're grieving, and it's hard," said Elizabeth Brown, a daughter of the victim.

The case was ruled an accident, and the driver was never ticketed.

Paige Dembow is the daughter of Paul Dembow, who was then the vice mayor of Paradise Valley.

The Brown family has long claimed that Dembow received special treatment at the scene.

Police reports show she was never given a breathalyzer, and her blood was not tested.

Her car had an ignition interlock system installed, as part of a probation agreement from a drug case.

Court records show Dembow was on probation at the time of the crash.   

Dembow did not fully comply with a prior probation and missed at least one court-ordered drug test.

"I don't understand. You have an interlock in your car and they don't check you for [drugs]," asked the victim's widow, Judy Brown.

"You give her a field sobriety test, take her phone and then put her in the car to get her blood tested. They did none of that," daughter Judith Brown said.

Minutes after the crash, before dusk on an overcast day, Dembow's father arrived at the scene.

In police officer body camera video, Dembow is never heard telling the officers that he's on the council. Still, the Browns believe they knew who he was.

"He's the boss of the police," Judy said.

In the videos, Paul is seen and heard helping his distraught daughter answer the officers' questions.

The officers let the Dembows leave the scene to go home.

"You cannot just be allowed to go to dad's house and 'olly olly oxen free,' no questions asked," Elizabeth said.

Hours after the crash, a video shows a Scottsdale officer, called in to assist in the Paradise Valley investigation, walking to the Dembows' door.

When the Scottsdale officer asks how the driver got home, the Paradise Valley officer responds, "Family... everybody came out of the woodwork and came to the scene and picked her up."

Paul answers the door and tells the officers that his daughter is "unavailable" for questioning.

"Paige left. I don't know where she is. I can try to get ahold of her, but... Paige left. She's very shaken up," Paul says on the officer body camera video.

Paul says his daughter will need an attorney present if the officers would like to question her further.

"They didn't do a thorough investigation," attorney Scott Halverson, who has handled deadly crash cases and reviewed this crash, said.

"They should have definitely had her isolated away from everyone else. Her father never should have been allowed to help her answer questions," Halverson said.

"Interlock devices don't detect medication or drugs. It's clear evidence the driver had a DUI conviction in the past and was on probation. They could have easily seen the charges she was on probation for. It was definitely reason to further investigate," Halverson added.

Police reports show Paige was driving 43 miles per hour, in a 35 mile per hour zone.

Howard was not in a crosswalk, but Halverson says, as a pedestrian, he had the right-of-way.

"They didn't even write a ticket, a traffic ticket, which is astonishing," Halverson said.

Howard died later at the hospital.

He was a NASA physicist in Houston, before moving to Phoenix. He founded Phase 1 Electronics, a security company, which he ran for more than 40 years.

A judge dismissed a negligence lawsuit the Browns filed against the Paradise Valley Police Department and the Dembow family.

A civil suit is still pending.

Paul declined to be interviewed, citing his attorney's advice.

In a statement, Paul said, “I offer my condolences to the grieving Brown family for their loss.”

The Paradise Valley Police Chief also declined to be interviewed for this story, citing the pending civil case.  

Following the crash, Paradise Valley police officers were sent through additional training for accident investigations and crime scene management.

The following is a statement from a public information officer:

"This was a terrible tragedy that impacted everyone involved.  Our thoughts and prayers continue to be with the Brown and Dembow families.  While the Maricopa County Superior Court recently cleared The Town of Paradise Valley, and all subsequent defendants, of any and all civil negligence claims there are still pending civil charges against other defendants in the case.  We do not believe it is in the best interest of the involved individuals, or the community, to provide another interview regarding this investigation while there is a lawsuit still pending.  We do not want to risk prejudicing future court proceedings by making additional statements outside the court process.   

There was no formal disciplinary action taken against any of the officers involved in this investigation.  The Paradise Valley Police Department has 5 goals as an organization.  Goal #5 is to “Review and Improve Work Product.”  We thoroughly reviewed this investigation and determined that there were some things that did not affect the outcome, but we could have done better.  As such we provided coaching to employees in the area of crime scene management, accident investigation, on scene supervision, and usage of body-worn cameras.  We also trained 8 officers in 2016 in Advanced Accident Investigation and will be sending 4 more officers to this training in 2017.  This investigation was turned over to an outside agency’s full-time fatal accident team for investigation, the same as all other fatal accidents we have investigated for the past several years."

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Jared DillinghamJared anchors the weekend newscasts at 5, 6, 9 and 10pm on both 3TV and CBS5. He also reports during the week for both stations.

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Jared Dillingham

Over his decade in Phoenix, Jared has worked all shifts at 3TV, including a yearlong stint anchoring the weekend morning show.

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