I-Team: School Police Chief to Testify in Wrongful Death Lawsu - 8 News NOW

I-Team: School Police Chief to Testify in Wrongful Death Lawsuit

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Angela Peterson's car Angela Peterson's car
Angela Peterson Angela Peterson
Kevin Miranda Kevin Miranda

LAS VEGAS -- The chief of the Clark County School Police has been ordered to testify in a wrongful death case, a case that has spurred allegations of a widespread cover-up within the department.

Thursday morning, a federal judge ruled against the school district and said that police chief James Ketsaa will have to answer questions under oath about the case of a young woman killed by a drunk driver in 2009.

After the I-Team broke the story about Angela Peterson's death, the school district fired police chief Phil Arroyo. Now, Arroyo is telling what he knows and has pointed a finger at his successor.

Arroyo accused former school Superintendent Dwight Jones of being a liar and meddler. And if anyone is to blame for failing to fully investigate Angela Peterson's death or a subsequent cover-up, it is the current chief Jim Ketsaa, he said.

However, Arroyo denied having anything to do with the drunken party that led to Arroyo being fired and to Angela Peterson's death.

"I wanted to have the ability to take Ketsaa's deposition, and we have that ability. So, I'm fine with that," attorney for the Peterson family Mark Cook said.

Cook didn't think he would need to question School Police Chief Jim Ketsaa, but that changed once he heard the testimony of the former chief Phil Arroyo.

Arroyo and seven other current or former school district employees are named, along with the district, in the federal lawsuit filed by Frank and Linda Peterson.

In November 2009, their daughter Angela was killed by a drunk driver, teenager Kevin Miranda, who had been drinking at a holiday party hosted by a police dispatcher.

It has taken years to piece together the events of that night, but Miranda admits, he and several other teenagers, were drinking and partying right alongside several school cops and police dispatchers.

Former dispatcher Penny Higgins says more than two dozen teens drank with the cops, even played the drinking game beer pong.

One by one, the police employees have been deposed. Mark Cook wonders if Kevin Miranda was wearing an invisibility cloak that night, because not one of the trained police officers can remember seeing Miranda or any other teens drinking booze.

"Nobody remembers the party. Everyone who was at the party can't remember where they were, or they were facing directly away from the open alcohol table," Cook said.

For the school cops to say they simply can't remember the party is, to Cook, a worse lie than saying they didn't see anything.

"If I was at a party and a kid got drunk and killed somebody, I'd wake up every night thinking, 'what could I have done differently?' I'd think about it and wonder, 'why didn't I know that?' All these people, don't remember anything, 'I wasn't paying attention.' Do you go to a lot of parties where people go and kill somebody? This is just one in a hundred?" Cook said.

After Angela Peterson's death, police employees say, a cover-up was ordered. Officers were ordered to stay away from the dispatch center. Dispatchers were told by supervisors to keep quiet. The party invitations were ordered destroyed. And chief Phil Arroyo described the I-Team stories about the party as "fairy tales."

He urged employees to stick together. But in his deposition, Arroyo told Cook a different story. He testified that former school boss Dwight Jones was a meddler and a liar. Arroyo says Jones knew about the party months before Arroyo did but withheld the information.

"Arroyo was pretty upset. He indicated, he wanted to know. If he did, he would have done things differently," Cook said.

In his deposition, Arroyo said he delegated the whole thing to his trusted captain, Jim Ketsaa.

"He says it was Ketsaa's responsibility to determine if there would be an internal affairs investigation or to turn it over to Metro," Cook said.

Arroyo denied issuing orders to cover up the party scandal, but says some how the word got out that employees should keep their mouth shut. He said he had no idea what information the department gave to Metro, which looked into the scandal but didn't press charges.

Cook says the scariest part of the whole mess is that the cover-up continues. Employees who kept quiet are still on the job, those who have come forward have been threatened, disciplined or fired.

"Absolutely it has continued. Not only did the cover-up not stop but for the people involved, nothing happened to them," Cook said.

Former chief Arroyo says he wanted to speak to the I-Team back when the story first broke but that Dwight Jones wouldn't allow it. He further says that while Jones told 8 News NOW that he would protect any school employees who came forward with information about the case, that order was never passed along to district employees, other than in 8 News NOW broadcasts.

The Petersons are no fans of Arroyo but feel that his testimony brings them one step closer to justice, and one day closer to an end to the cover up.

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