No charges for MCSO deputy in high speed fatal accident - KMSP-TV

No charges for MCSO deputy in high speed fatal accident

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PHOENIX (KSAZ) - Maricopa County Sheriff's deputy Sean Pearce was looking at manslaughter charges in the death of 63 year-old John Harding.

On Wednesday, the Maricopa County Attorney declined to file charges against Pearce. Now the family of John Harding believes the situation may have been biased.

Deputy Pearce is the son of former Senator Russel Pearce, who supported Bill Montgomery's election campaign for county attorney. The Harding family is upset and outraged that Sean Pearce will not be held criminally responsible for the death.

"I know that he's the son of the ex-senator. So I'm afraid that might help him because if he were a regular citizen he would be in jail right now," said Nohemi Harding.

John Harding's widow voiced her fears months ago, and now those fears are being realized.

Glendale Police recommended a charge of manslaughter for Deputy Sean Pearce for causing a fatal crash that took the life of her husband of 24 years. On Wednesday Bill Montgomery announced that Pearce will not face any criminal charges.

"I want to stop short of saying this definitely would've been charged, but for the connection between Bill Montgomery and Russell Pearce, I don't know. Bill Montgomery assured me that's not the case, but I said back to him it sure looks bad, it sure has the appearance of bias here," said Marc Victor.

What we do know is that Deputy Pearce was traveling at 81 miles per hour, twice the legal speed limit when the accident happened. He was also driving without any emergency lights or sirens on while responding to the report of a homicide suspect being sighted.

Pearce slammed into John Harding's car killing him. The county attorney said one of the factors that led to his decision is the line of sight for both drivers.

He says neither Pearce nor Harding saw each other. The fact that Pearce was speeding, believing he could help catch a suspected murderer, also played a role in the decision. The Harding family's attorney said Deputy Pearce was reckless for going so fast on a busy surface street.

"Manslaughter doesn't require that the deputy intended to kill somebody. It's that he was extreme, and outrageous, and disregarded a substantial risk," said Victor.

The Harding family has filed a multi-million dollar wrongful death lawsuit against Deputy Pearce and the Maricopa County Sheriff's Office. Harding's widow and five children are named in the lawsuit.

Victor suggested that Montgomery forward the case to a grand jury, but Montgomery refused.
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