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Judge deals Goodyear a setback in lawsuit
by Brent Whiting staff writer
lawsuit filed by a former Goodyear worker who accused police of wrongful conduct in a traffic- death investigation.
that Terri Woodmansee, a former victim advocate for the Goodyear Police Department, may have been the victim of a retaliatory dismissal.
The ruling by Helen Gillmor, a federal judge in Honolulu who has been assigned the case, was issued June 12, according to records in U.S. District Court in Phoenix.
The judge declared there is ample evidence A federal judge has refused to throw out a
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Goodyear woman helps homeless people get ID documents — Page 10.
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WORKERS USE A CRANE to remove pieces of collapsed roof from the main chapel of a Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints ward building in Tolleson Monday. The building caught fire for unknown reasons in the early morning hours of June 29.
Officials investigate Tolleson church fire
by Brent Whiting staff writer
City and federal investigators were kept busy this week trying to uncover the cause of a church fire in Tolleson. Cranes and heavy machinery were called to the scene Monday as workers wearing respirators and protective gear began sifting through the charred debris at the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints at 701 N. 95th Ave. It will be “days” before the cause is determined and made public, said Tom Mangan, a special agent in Phoenix for the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, or ATF. “We are focusing on the chapel area, where
the roof pancaked onto the pews,” Mangan said Tuesday. “We expect to be on scene for several days.”
Sewing group vows to rise from the ashes/Page 2
Both Mangan and George Good, the Tolleson fire chief, have stopped short of saying the fire was started intentionally, adding that is something for investigators to determine based on the evidence.
the fire, which erupted early June 29 at the church north of Van Buren Street. The building
(See Curch on Page 2)
this fire an arson,” Good said. ATF has partnered with Tolleson police and firefighters to investigate
“In a nutshell, we have not called
The decision was handed down after oral arguments March 22 in which Gillmor issued comments in support of Woodmansee, who claims she engaged in “protected activity” for blowing the whistle on alleged police misconduct. “And I don’t think that it’s really even a close case, counsel,” Gillmor told lawyers on both sides of the case, according to a hearing transcript.
In a 62-page opinion, Gillmor also denied motions by Goodyear to dismiss Mark Brown, the former Goodyear police chief, and Ralph McLaughlin, a former police commander, as defendants. However, Gillmor did grant a motion by the city to drop Bill Cusson, now an assistant Goodyear police chief and Woodmansee’s former supervisor, as a defendant in the pending lawsuit.
The decision thus 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. “I believe justice is being served and will be
served in the future,” Woodmansee said Tuesday when asked to comment on Gillmor’s ruling. Goodyear has appealed portions of Gillmor’s decision to the Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals, said Romina Khananisho, an intergovernmental programs manager for the city.
In the meantime, the city “cannot comment further due to the ongoing nature of the litigation,” Khananisho said. At issue in Woodmansee’s lawsuit is what happened after Jered Pendleton, an 18-year-old Westview High School senior, was found lying dead in a Goodyear roadway April 6, 2008. No arrests have been made in the case. Woodmansee claims she was improperly fired Aug. 8, 2008, for blowing the whistle on alleged police misconduct in the death investigation. Also, she was accused of improperly telling a Maricopa County Attorney’s Office official that she suspected a Goodyear police officer had struck the youth while on patrol and that Goodyear police were covering up the incident. Another pending federal lawsuit has been filed by Jered Pendleton’s mother, Shay, who
(See Lawsuit on Page 2)
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