Former Goodyear Deputy Police Chief Justin Hughes

Former Goodyear Deputy Police Chief Justin Hughes retired July 10.

Though an independent investigation found he created a “debacle” and violated policies, “Justin Hughes is retiring in good standing after serving Goodyear for more than 14 years,” said Tammy Vo, a Goodyear spokeswoman.

“Although the investigation had concluded, any potential discipline on the findings never took place because Hughes never returned to duty,” she added.

Hughes, Goodyear’s former deputy police chief, was suspended in October. An independent investigation found he inappropriately questioned two subordinates after one of them questioned undercover detectives using unregistered license plates.

When the investigation concluded in January, Hughes went on personal leave. He retired July 10.

Last week, Goodyear provided the West Valley View with another investigation of a complaint against Hughes. It was completed by the Gilbert Police Department March 2.

According to the report, “On Nov. 15, 2019, Goodyear Police Chief Santiago Rodriguez requested the Gilbert Police Department assist with an administrative investigation involving Goodyear Deputy Chief Justin Hughes.”

A citizen who claimed whistleblower protection “alleged that Hughes inappropriately used his position within the police department to interfere with and cover up criminal investigations related to misconduct within Desert Edge High School,” wrote Kevin Shipley, a Gilbert detective who did the investigation.

The whistleblower alleged that when a parent tried to serve a harassment order against a Desert Edge employee, Hughes intervened and intimidated the parent.

Shipley concluded that this was not the case.

On May 13, 2018, when the incident took place, Hughes was a sergeant. He was later promoted to deputy police chief. 

Shipley’s report includes a transcript taken from body-worn camera recordings of Hughes interacting with the parent.

According to the transcript, Hughes told the parent, “I know this entire case,” that the court document “100% is absolutely not correct” and “you’re perjuring yourself. You are falsifying a court document.”

The parent responds by telling Hughes the matter “was between me and the judge.” When Hughes persists, the parent states, “Right now, I’m going to get an attorney.” 

The injunction against harassment the parent was trying to have served was related to the Desert Ridge employee allegedly holding one of the parent’s children—who was no longer a Desert Edge student—against his will at the employee’s home.

Shipley stated he reviewed Goodyear police footage related to the allegation.

“This statement made by (the parent) on an official court document was factually inconsistent with my observations from body-worn camera related to the incident,” Shipley wrote.

Shipley wrote that he also interviewed Hughes.

“Hughes denied attempting to interfere with (the parent) and explained that he was ‘trying to do a good faith deed’ and explain to (the parent) that he was perjuring himself. Hughes further explained that he had historical knowledge of (the parent) and that (the parent) had created issues at the school in the past. Hughes said he knew (the parent’s) behavior could escalate quickly and the potential for complaints against officers was high.” Hughes described the parent as “a chronic complainer.”

Shipley wrote that the parent exaggerated the school incident.

“I pointed out that I had only observed three uniformed officers aside from Sgt. Hughes, which was inconsistent with (the parent’s) claim that there were eight officers on scene. I also pointed out that his interaction with the uniformed officers appeared professional and courteous. (The parent) maintained his claim that there were seven to eight officers present and suggested the other officers not seen in the body-worn camera could not be seen because they were standing behind the cameras,” Shipley wrote.

The Gilbert detective’s conclusion:

“After conducting multiple administrative interviews and reviewing several related police reports and body worn camera videos, this investigator found no evidence to support the allegation that Deputy Chief Justin Hughes interfered with, concealed, or suppressed criminal activity on behalf of members of the (Desert Edge employee’s) family or on behalf of Desert Edge High School and/or the Agua Fria School District; or that Deputy Chief Hughes inappropriately used his position within the police department to intimidate and prevent (the parent) from exercising his right to file a harassment order. … Additionally, no evidence was found supporting a conspiracy or cover-up related to members of the Goodyear Police Department and (a former Desert Edge teacher).”