Stanton denies Dembow allegations, will not resign from Paradise Valley Town Council

Paradise Valley Town Councilmembers Paul Dembow, on far left and Mark Stanton, second from right, are embattled in a public display in recent months, after Mr. Dembow called for Mr. Stanton’s resignation. (Independent Newsmedia/Melissa Rosequist)

On the heels of Paradise Valley Councilman Paul Dembow calling for the resignation of fellow elected leader — Mark Stanton — members of the Brown family spoke out at the Dec. 6 Town Council meeting, citing their belief that Mr. Dembow should actually be the one to resign.

Additionally, Mr. Stanton addressed the call for him to resign later in the meeting, saying that he doesn’t believe there to be evidence to do so.

Judith and Elizabeth Brown, two of Howard Brown’s daughters, used the municipality’s public comment portion to stand up to the councilmember, call out the other council members and the police chief.

Paradise Valley resident Howard Brown was struck and killed by a car operated by Mr. Dembow’s daughter on Nov. 15, 2015; However, no charges were filed and the Paradise Valley Police Department — early in the process — had been cleared of any wrongdoing.

The Honorable Jo Lynn Gentry of the Maricopa County Superior Court in July 2017 ruled in a criminal case against the Paradise Valley Police Department that the law enforcement entity had no duty of care to perform an investigation into the fatal accident at the intersection of Invergordon and Horseshoe roads that resulted in the death of Mr. Brown.

The Maricopa County Superior Court has cleared the Town of Paradise Valley — and its subsequent defendants — of any and all civil negligence claims that could leave taxpayers liable. The lawsuit named the Town of Paradise Valley, Police Officer Steve Hovorka, Police Cpl. Mark Garrity and Paradise Valley Councilman Paul Dembow and sought a payout ranging from $3.8 to $4.2 million.

Additionally, Mr. Stanton spoke at the end of the Dec. 6 meeting to address the comments made about him in November.

On Nov. 15, Mr. Dembow delivered a prepared statement telling the public a lawsuit against him, his family, town and police officials has been dismissed.

But also discovered during the course of the court proceedings, Mr. Dembow contends, is fellow elected leader, Mr. Stanton, had provided harmful comments and incendiary statements to the plaintiffs of both the criminal and civil lawsuits stemming from the 2015 tragic death of a Paradise Valley resident.

The comments were discovered during the deposition period of the information gathering for the lawsuit, records show.

A police photograph of the car that struck Paradise Valley resident Howard Brown. (PVPD photograph)

Brown sisters

Judith spoke first, identifying herself as the third daughter of Mr. Brown.

She says her father was exiting the road, walking their Shih Tzu on a Sunday afternoon three years ago when he was struck by Mr. Dembow’s daughter.

“Thank you, Mr. Dembow, for assisting us in educating the public on the anniversary of my father‘s violent death. However, your purpose as tasteless and inappropriate as it seems your opinions are yours and your inaccurate facts will be corrected,” she said.

“It strongly appears you were trying to use your influence yet again for personal benefit.”

Judith Brown (submitted photo)

Judith states that she believes Mr. Dembow’s interference with the crime scene of an adult family member and speaking on his daughter’s behalf show his choice to become involved in the case.

“Your outrageous efforts to dim the lights on a life violently taken and privilege to do so is unfathomable. To request the resignation of your peer because you seem to think he’s the only one in this town that knows you and your family is highly ignorant,” Ms. Brown said.

“For you to request that he resign because he mildly didn’t agree with your set of rules of immunity for your daughter that you knew six or so months before was going to hurt someone or herself as you stated in your conservatory-ship court documents.”

She says that she commends Councilman Stanton for being the only one on the current board that was concerned about the safety and lawfulness of the Town of Paradise Valley community.

“There’s a bigger problem here my father was violently killed having almost every bone in his body broken at the hands of your daughter while on probation for drugs with an interlock device in her car speeding almost potentially up to 50 miles an hour in a posted 35 MPH residential street having full visibility of at least 200 feet,” she said.

“Besides this fatality of my precious father being highly avoidable it is you that interfered with special privileges and extreme abuse of power. I think you all have forgotten your job description and purpose for your elected positions.”

Mr. Dembow did not take his eyes off of Ms. Brown as she addressed the council.

Elizabeth Brown followed her sister, reading off a similar statement.

“For you to call a wrongful death lawsuit a frivolous and shotgun lawsuit, as you did, is a slap in the face,” Elizabeth said.

“You callously made disturbingly inaccurate statement on the anniversary date of the day your daughter violently killed my dad, and you believed your statements would go unchallenged.”

Elizabeth said that Councilman Stanton, many other people and law enforcement agencies have contacted the family to question the police officers who did not follow “standard basic protocol.”

She alleges Paradise Valley police officers lied on the scene and in their deposition.

“They declared immediately that Paige Dembow would not go to jail, they let Paul Dembow interject himself by answering police questions, letting him leave the scene with her, knowing that investigators were going to question her,” Ms. Brown said.

“By the time Scottsdale police were called to investigate, Police Chief (Peter) Wingert would not even allow sergeants to close the street. The scene was driven over by vehicles for two hours, obviously damaging the crime scene.”

Elizabeth continued that she believes Ms. Dembow was going as fast as 48 MPH on the residential street.

“Our dad was exiting the street and his dog was already three feet out of the street, and our dad was actually 50-100 feet ahead of Paige,” Elizabeth said.

“He was 12 inches, one foot step from being out of the street. She hit him with full force, did not break and did not swerve, breaking every bone in his body including his eye sockets.”

Elizabeth says an anonymous Good Samaritan left evidence from Ms. Dembow’s phone in the mailbox, holding up a folder as she spoke. She says the Dembows’ lawyers prevented them from providing this evidence in court.

Mr. Dembow was given the opportunity to respond to the sisters, in which he apologized for the hurt that they still feel three years after Mr. Brown’s death.

“My condolences to your family. We all grieve differently, I feel terrible. I wish that you find peace,” he said.

“If you believe that our police is that bad, and the court system is controlled by the Dembow family as well, I feel terrible for you. I pray you find peace.”

Mr. Dembow stated that the issue was adjudicated in court for over two weeks, and that there was plenty of evidence and expert witnesses.

“The police and the Scottsdale police, and the experts, there was not one person that found it any differently than it was a tragic accident when Mr. Brown, for whatever reason, walked in front of my daughter’s car,” Mr. Dembow said.

The daughters tried to refute Mr. Dembow’s statement, before walking out of the meeting.

“My father did not step in front of your daughter,” Judith said. “I’m not going to sit here and listen to that.”

Councilman Mark Stanton (File photo)

Stanton refutes claims

Hours later, Mr. Stanton had his opportunity to provide his own statements on the public call for his resignation.

“This is the part of the agenda that is dedicated for updates, and so I feel I need to give an update on a recent matter that came up at our last meeting that was called out by Councilman Paul Dembow asking me to resign my position on the council. I think it’s important I give an update on where I stand on this particular subject,” Mr. Stanton explained, saying he wasn’t at the meeting because of a prior commitment that he had told town officials in advanced.

“I wasn’t here to be part of those comments, and it was very unfortunate and I felt they were inaccurate statements.”

Mr. Stanton says that Mr. Dembow accused him of disparaging the town, the PVPD, and him (Mr. Dembow).

“He claimed that I improperly provided the 9-1-1 emergency call to the family of one of our residents, Mr. Howard Brown, who was struck and killed by car driven by Mr. Dembow’s daughter,” Mr. Stanton said.

“Councilman Dembow accused me of deliberately evading his claims and refusing to answer them. None of these statements (are) true.”

Mr. Stanton says he never asked for, obtained or distributed a 9-1-1 recording. Secondly, he says he’s never said anything negative or disparaging about the PVPD regarding the Brown investigation.

Councilman Paul Dembow (file photo)

“I would have no reason to do so,” he said. “I’ve always had great respect for, and confidence in, the police department. I did spend time looking with Chief Wingert, at the case after it occurred, asking honest questions and getting honest answers.”

Mr. Stanton says thirdly, as he stated in a statement to the Independent, he has been friends with members of the Brown family for many years.

“So when this tragedy occurred, I did reach out to them to express my condolences, my grief and their bereavement in this time that they were suffering,” he said.

“After it was apparent there would be legal action taken against the town, I ceased communication with the Brown family.”
Mr. Stanton says that contrary to Mr. Dembow’s claim, he never advised Mr. Stanton that he was going to make a public statement at the last council meeting, nor did he approach him directly with these accusations.

“I’ve considered Paul Dembow a friend and colleague, I don’t have anything negative to say about Paul. There’s no reason to, and I don’t feel there ever will be,” Mr. Stanton said.

“At no time have I breached my fiduciary obligation, as Paul referred to it, to my office, to my town or to any of my colleagues. There’s no reason for me to resign my position because there is no objective evidence to support the claims that were leveled against me. I have no intention of doing so. Frankly, I am at a loss to know why Mr. Dembow would want to reignite such a horrific tragedy three years after it occurred, and after it had gone through an extensive system of due process and had been settled. What possible benefit or legitimate reason would you do that? The only people that have been hurt are the people who were hurt the most, and that’s the Brown family, by bringing this back into the public spotlight.”

Mr. Stanton says the dais is not a place for grievance or political games.

“Accordingly I do reject Councilman Dembow’s allegations, whatever their motivation. Despite my disappointment with his actions I will work with him, I will try to work beyond this with him for the good of the town and the good of the council, because that’s the right thing to do.”

Mr. Stanton says regardless of any animosity Mr. Dembow has towards Mr. Stanton, it pails in comparison to the loss of Mr. Brown’s family.

Mr. Dembow immediately asked Mr. Stanton if he would publicly deny what the Browns said in their deposition.

“I noticed that you did not deny what the Brown said under their deposition, are you willing to do that right now?” Mr. Dembow asked.

Mr. Stanton paused before Mayor Michael Collins interjected to ask if the two men could discuss the matter further offline and not during council reports.

News Services Editor Melissa Rosequist can be reached by e-mail at mrosequist@newszap.com or follow her on Twitter at www.twitter.com/Mrosequist_

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