An Arizona Department of Public Safety detective who conducted a criminal investigation into the actions of former Parker Police Chief Rod Mendoza has requested that Mohave County charge him with a class 6 felony for tampering with physical evidence.
The revelation comes in a report by independent investigators which looked into several allegations and rumors at the behest of the Town of Parker before Mendoza resigned. Some of the findings cast doubt upon Mendoza’s judgement and others imply dishonesty and breach of ethics.
In the case of the one criminal finding, Mendoza is alleged to have tampered with an email he sent to Lorrie Thompson, the wife of a Parker police officer. Thompson had accused Mendoza of pursuing a romantic relationship with her despite both of them being married, and alleges that he kissed her on the lips in his office on June 5th, 2013. A few weeks later on June 27th, Thompson wrote him an email which said:
Thank you for clarifying your intentions, just a note to let you know that I am not interested in pursuing anything beyond a professional relationship with you. I love my husband very much and I also am quite fond of your wife, she’s a very nice person. As stated in our last conversation, this will in no way affect any professional dealings I have with you in the future.
Lorrie A. Thompson”
According to the report, Mendoza replied in two emails, one sent via his iPhone 13 minutes later and the second via his office computer 23 minutes after the first. The report finds that “The copy of these messages that Lorrie Thompson presented in her interview and the copies that Chief Mendoza has presented are materially different.”
The copy Thompson provided reads as follows:
I’m not real sure what you’re talking about but agree and I think that you are very professional woman in fact give me a call because I think I may have a law-law enforcement opportunity for you I told you I would keep searching for Opportunities.”
The copy Mendoza provided begins with the same message but adds several lines to the one Thompson says she received:
I’m not real sure what you’re talking about but agree and I think that you are very professional woman in fact give me a call because I think I may have a law-law enforcement opportunity for you I told you I would keep searching for Opportunities. You and I have been friends for a long time and when you started coming by the PD to talk I thought I made my intentions clear. We knew each other before either one of us were married and now we are married to wonderful people. I’m glad to hear you are really only interested in a professional relationship because I think you are a professional woman. Mike is a great guy and loves you very much, you two are good for each other. I hope our conversation did not lead to anything else except friendship. I will continue to work with you and continue to look for law enforcement opportunities for you. I know how important that is to you.
The finding of the report is that Mendoza deleted the original emails from his Outlook account in the Inbox and Sent Items folders, and showed his altered copy to Town Manager Lori Wedemeyer, Mayor Dan Beaver and others. He is also alleged to have presented this altered copy as evidence in a court of law while purporting it to be genuine. This refers to a court hearing in Lake Havasu City when Mendoza successfully fought Thompson’s injunction against harassment.
The report concludes that Mendoza’s “account of his actions is not supported, and in some cases is refuted, by objective evidence” and that his “failure to cooperate with [investigators’] requests to provide relevant documentation probative to the issue under review here further calls his truthfulness and integrity into question.”
Other parts of the report investigate whether Mendoza sought to protect his future wife, Leean Hendrix, from allegations of false reporting and impersonating a public official, and whether he instructed a subordinate officer to destroy public records in the form of evidence against her. The investigation found that no destruction of evidence occurred and that Mendoza had nothing to do with Hendrix not being prosecuted. However, the report concludes that “Mendoza’s actions throughout this investigation and his subsequent decision to date and take Leean Hendrix as his wife have served to create an atmosphere of distrust between him, many members of his own department, his supervisor as well as some members of the community.”
To the question of whether Lorrie Thompson was right to allege that Mendoza kissed her on the lips inappropriately in his office in June 2013, the report finds that “his decision to close his office door while meeting alone with Lorrie Thompson was unwise and the hushed tone and personal content of his conversation with her just prior to [his wife Leean’s] arrival are consistent with Lorrie Thompson’s assertion that he was trying to establish a romantic connection with her.”
Thompson also said that Mendoza had driven to Lake Havasu City in a Parker P.D. vehicle with the purpose of meeting her at Starbucks on June 11th and had told her he wanted to have a secret romantic relationship with her even though he had a wife and she had a husband, and that this meeting had happened when Thompson’s husband Mike, one of Mendoza’s subordinates, was out of town on Parker P.D. business. The investigation concluded that the meeting happened and was “inappropriate and beneath the dignity of his position and a violation of the trust placed in his office. One only has to read the text messages that set up the meeting and listen to the tape recording of their encounter to come to this conclusion.”
Other rumors were addressed in the report and found to be lacking in substance or evidence. Other questions were not addressed due to lack of time in interviews. The report was based on 25 interviews involving 15 different individuals, conducted in person and by phone.
Mendoza resigned while on paid administrative leave pending the results of the report. Clay Romo was made Chief of Police and is now leading Parker Police Department.
CORRECTION: The original version of this article said that this report was by the Department of Public Safety. The only allegation which involved DPS was the criminal investigation into tampering with evidence. The rest of the allegations were investigated by independent investigators Jim Humphrey & Ronald Hergert at the behest of the Town of Parker.
AMENDMENT 2: The original version of this article contained a link to the original report (the source material for this article). At the request of some individuals named in the report but NOT central to the allegations that the report was able to confirm, Parker Live has removed that link out of respect for their privacy.