Claiming a “coup,” Jerry Geier is not going down without a fight.
Geier, Goodyear’s police chief since 2012, is appealing his Dec. 28 termination. The city of Goodyear has not released the reason he was fired, but details began emerging during an appeal hearing Monday, Feb. 24. The hearing was scheduled to continue Tuesday, March 3.
The first day of the hearing showed a police department that was apparently quite dysfunctional.
In addition to conspiracy allegations, the first day of the hearing discussed one Goodyear Police officer quitting after an off-duty hit and run, and other Goodyear officers racing around Phoenix in search of an undercover FBI agent — the wife of a police leader.
Geier’s actions in both cases were appropriate and his answers to investigators honest, said Steve Serbalik, Geier’s attorney.
“Chief Geier’s rights were violated,” Serbalik told the West Valley View
In his opening statement, Serbalik alleged Goodyear Deputy Chief Justin Hughes and Goodyear Police Officers Association President Marcus Patterson conspired to file false allegations against Geier.
Serbalik claimed the union urged city management to fire Geier and replace him with Hughes.
Goodyear also launched an investigation against Hughes. Geier and Hughes were both placed on paid suspensions in early October. Though the Hughes investigation also has been completed, the city will not release the findings until Hughes’ personal leave time expires.
The city’s case for why Geier was fired: Geier was untruthful during an investigation by Donald Conrad, who was hired by the city and testified Monday.
The two key allegations, both from 2019: 1) Geier approved undercover detectives to help search for Hughes’ wife, an FBI agent; 2) Geier failed to properly report a hit-and-run in Glendale by an off-duty Goodyear Officer (Alison Braughton, who later resigned).
Conrad said Geier was dishonest when the investigator asked about both incidents.
Geier’s attorney said Geier notified the city’s human resources and legal department about the Braughton case. Serbalik said Geier did make the proper notifications regarding Braughton, but a form initially was misunderstood.
Serbalik said last week he planned to call witnesses during the March 3 hearing to support Geier’s case.
If the hearing before examiner Harold Merkow concludes as scheduled Tuesday, Merkow will then have 10 days to provide a recommendation to the city. The city will then make its decision within 30 days.
According to Serbalik, in addition to hearing witness testimony, Merkow must review 1,400 pages of records.
Serbalik’s goal: “We’d like to have (Geier) reinstated and certainly the opportunity to clear his name.”
If the appeal hearing does not go in Geier’s favor, Geier could continue to fight his firing in a civil suit.
Depending on the outcome of the appeal, “A lot of different things can happen next,” said Serbalik. “We’ll take all steps necessary to allow him to clear his name.”