Former Chandler police officer Dan Lovelace’s wait is over. He’s not getting his old job back. City Manager Mark Pentz decided to support a personnel board’s 5-0 vote to uphold Lovelace’s firing after he fatally shot an Ahwatukee Foothills woman who tried to fill a fake prescription at a drugstore drive-through.
Lovelace told the Merit System Board in April he had no choice but to shoot 35-year-old Dawn Rae Nelson on Oct. 11, 2002, claiming she tried to hit him with her car while attempting to flee.
But board members said Lovelace put himself in harm’s way by stepping in front of Nelson’s car as she tried to drive away.
The board held eight hearings between October 2004 and April 2005 and heard testimony from 19 witnesses — five for the city and 14 for Lovelace.
Lovelace’s attorney, Michael Napier, did not return a call for comment Monday.
The Chandler Law Enforcement Association, which represents most of the city’s police officers, backed Lovelace’s effort to get his job back. Association president David LeVoy declined comment on the decision Monday.
"We let the process run its course," he said.
In a three-sentence letter dated Monday, Pentz informed Lovelace of the decision. The letter also stated no further appeals were possible at the city level.
Lovelace was tried and acquitted in July on charges of second-degree murder and endangerment in Maricopa County Superior Court. The state agency that certifies police officers chose not to revoke Lovelace’s certification, leaving him eligible to pursue law enforcement jobs elsewhere in Arizona.
Lovelace and his wife, Tricia — still a dispatcher with the Chandler Police Department — sued the city, Maricopa County and several employees of both. The lawsuit claims the department violated Lovelace’s civil rights and cites slander and libel claims. That case remains pending in U.S. District Court in Phoenix.