GOODYEAR, AZ — A lawyer for former Goodyear Police Chief Jerry Geier said there was a “coup” intent on discrediting the chief and getting him fired.
The allegation comes during an appeal hearing Monday to determine whether or not to uphold Geier’s termination from the Goodyear Police Department. The former chief was put on administrative leave in October and fired in December.
Geier faced numerous allegations raised by the city’s police union. Two major complaints were substantiated in the city’s internal investigation, and both involved questions of Geier’s honesty and integrity.
The first incident involved whether to report a criminal allegation about a female sergeant to outside law enforcement entities. Glendale police had investigated then-sergeant Alison Braughton for a hit-and-run. While off-duty, she was accused of hitting a utility pole and driving away.
According to the internal investigation, Braughton, facing the likelihood she would be fired, later resigned.
In Monday’s hearing, investigator Donald Conrad said Geier and some of his top administrators disagreed about whether to report Braughton to the Maricopa County Attorney for possible inclusion on the "Brady List" and the AZ POST for possible suspension or revocation of her police certification.
Geier is accused of telling his subordinates, including Deputy Chief Justin Hughes, not to complete the reporting, and Geier is accused of later presenting a “false narrative” about what happened to investigators.
“I had four people that corroborated one another,” Conrad said. He said he didn’t not believe the former chief provided him with “a credible statement.”
Conrad said Geier’s insistence not to report to the outside agencies was motivated by “self-interest.” He said Geier had worried that “another allegation of gender discrimination” would negatively impact his career, and he was concerned Braughton could level that allegation against him. Conrad said he did not find any evidence, as leveled by the union, that he engaged in “reverse discrimination.”
The second incident involved the use of Goodyear’s Neighborhood Enforcement Team (NET) to find the deputy chief’s wife. Last April, the wife of Deputy Chief Justin Hughes was working for the FBI, and she was supposed to be meeting with a confidential informant, according to investigators. When Hughes was unable to contact her, Geier approved the use of the NET team to help find her.
City officials claim Geier was aware of the NET team’s actions as they went into Phoenix and located the wife, who was safe and allegedly engaged in an affair with the informant. According to the investigation, Geier denied that he had full knowledge of the NET team’s actions. Conrad found the Geier was dishonest about what he did or didn’t know.
Geier’s attorney said in Monday’s appeal hearing that Hughes and his supporters were staging a coup in an effort to oust Geier. The attorney said Hughes was trying to become chief himself, and in order to do that, he and his supporters needed to find ways to discredit Geier.
Hughes is currently on personal leave from the Goodyear Police Department. The city has completed an internal investigation against him, but the results will not be released until he concludes his leave.