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Arpaio says he'll investigate deputy involved in fatal crash

PHOENIX -- A Maricopa County Sheriff's Office deputy is still on the job while the County Attorney's Office decides whether he should be charged with manslaughter.

Meanwhile, Sheriff Joe Arpaio said he's planning his own internal investigation into the actions of Deputy Sean Pearce but did not say when that would begin.

Glendale police say that on Dec. 16, 2013, Pearce was driving a Chevy Tahoe 81 mph, which is twice the posted speed limit, when it struck a car near 59th Avenue and Northern. The driver of the car, 63-year-old Army veteran John Harding, was killed in the crash.

Pearce claims he was chasing a murder suspect at the time and that his Tahoe did not have lights and sirens in the car.

"He was not arrested," Arpaio said. "This is an investigation by the Glendale police, who turned it over to the County Attorney. It will be up to the County Attorney to make a decision on any charges."

Arpaio said that Pearce is devastated by the accident. He added that Pearce has a great record as a deputy.

"He's been on the job for 21 years. (He's) dedicated," Arpaio said. "No blemish on his record. He was shot and almost killed by a violent criminal."

Pearce is the son of former Arizona Senate President Russell Pearce, a longtime Arpaio ally. Arpaio said that despite the relationship, he's not showing favoritism or playing politics.

"If anybody wants to go after him, me or the County Attorney for political reasons...it's not fair. This has nothing to do with politics," said Arpaio.

Russell Pearce is also a supporter of Maricopa County Attorney Bill Montgomery.

About the Author


Years with the company: I started on January 2, 2006.

Education: I was born in San Antonio, Texas, but we moved to Phoenix when I was one-year-old in 1957. I grew up here and graduated from Alhambra High School and attended Phoenix College.

Family: I live in north Phoenix with my wife Rene' and my son Devin.

Favorite food: Lots of favorite food, but our favorite restaurant is Fajitas.

Favorite spot in Arizona: The Little America Hotel in Flagstaff.

Favorite news memory: We have to go back to October 15, 1979. I was a country music air personality at KROP Radio in Brawley, California, when we had a 6.7 earthquake. Thankfully, there were no deaths and only minor injuries, but the entire community was pretty freaked out and listening to the station on their transistor radios. I would not want to go through an earthquake again, but it sure was a great night to work in radio and see how it can make a difference in people's lives.

First job: Working as a stringer for 'The Arizona Republic' at high school football games. My first real job was flipping burgers at the old Sandy's Hamburgers at 51st Avenue and Indian School Road. My first radio job was as announcer at KALJ radio in Yuma in 1977.

First concert: My Dad took me to see Jimmy Dean at the Arizona State Fairgrounds in the 1960's. It was before the Coliseum was built. The only thing I remember is Jimmy Dean singing his big hit "Big Bad John."

Favorite sports team: Phoenix Roadrunners minor league hockey. My dad took me to a game when I was in grade school, and I was hooked. I wanted to be a radio hockey play-by-play man. I used to take my cassette recorder and sit up in the rafters of the Coliseum and do play-by-play. It was great later in life to also take my son to Roadrunners games. Too bad the team just folded, I'll miss them. (Going to the Coyotes is fun, but they're not "my" team.)

Outside interests: My family and I are active in our church - Shiloh Community Church in Phoenix. Devin is a high school student at Scottsdale Christian Academy. He plays on the baseball, football, and basketball teams and sings in the choir. Obviously, we keep busy trying to go to all his events! We enjoy going to movies, sporting events, and long road trips. We like to vacation at the Beach Cottages in the Pacific Beach area of San Diego. And I love to play catch, basketball, football with my son.

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