Maricopa County Deputy Sean Pearce pleaded guilty to speeding and took a driving class last week for his role in an on-duty fatal crash.
In June, County Attorney Bill Montgomery announced that Pearce would face no serious criminal charges for the December 2013 crash that took the life of John Edward Harding, 63.
The city of Glendale charged Pearce, the son of recalled State Senator Russell Pearce, with criminal speeding.
On the day of the crash, Pearce was driving 81 mph in a 40 mph zone in his unmarked Chevrolet Tahoe, with no lights or sirens activated. He'd been following a homicide suspect who was more than a mile away in a taxi. Harding made the fatal error of pulling out of a side street in his Nissan Cube into the path of the Tahoe.
Montgomery in June called any speculation that politics took part in his office's decision not to charge Pearce "amateur analysis." The view of both drivers had been obscured by another vehicle for a moment, and Pearce was doing police work at the time, Montgomery noted.
Glendale investigators concluded the crash wouldn't have occurred if Pearce had been driving slower. He received a ticket in August for driving more than 20 mph over the speed limit, a misdemeanor.
Last month, City Court Judge Manuel Delgado allowed Pearce to have the ticket dismissed if he took a defensive-driving class. Pearce completed the class last week, records show.
While Pearce's punishment may seem like a farce compared to the end result of his decision to speed excessively, this kind of outcome isn't uncommon when serious criminal charges don't apply in a fatal crash. In 2012, for instance, Scottsdale resident Amy Alexander paid a $420 fine after veering into a bike lane for no apparent reason and killing bicyclist Shawn McCarty.
The speeding ticket and its resolution won't help Pearce in his ongoing fight against a lawsuit by Harding's family, who are seeking $5 million from Pearce and Maricopa County.
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One piece is left remaining in this case: The internal investigation by MCSO into Pearce's actions. We've got an outstanding records request filed on that one; we'll publish an update when something comes up.
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