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Vance Keyes – demoted Fort Worth officer (CBS11)

FORT WORTH (CBS11) – There are new worries about racial tension in Fort Worth as two demoted assistant police chiefs claim they were wrongfully punished, one of them in a church with community leaders at his side.

Former deputy chief Vance Keyes was in civilian clothes Monday, serving the first day of a three day-suspension. 

He said the allegations about his involvement in leaked body camera video are not true.

“I don’t care your title or position, you don’t impure my character in the media and not expect a response from me,”  Keyes said.

Keyes said the allegations he hampered an investigation into who leaked video of Jacqueline Craig’s arrest are not true.

Craig had called police because a neighbor allegedly choked her son. Instead, she and her two daughters were roughly arrested and later released. Craig is black, the arresting officer is white.

Keyes was demoted from deputy chief to captain and suspended for three days.

The other disciplined, former-assistant chief also claims innocence.

“I’ve done nothing wrong and justice will be served,” Abdul Pridgen said as he left Chief Joel Fitzgerald’s office Friday.

And former deputy chief Abdul Pridgen is fighting a recommendation to bust him down to sergeant for releasing the video.

Keyes said the demotions are all political fallout from Craig’s arrest and the backlash from the black community about how the department handled the aftermath.

“The police department’s and ultimately the city’s mishandling of that situation was akin to an attempt to extinguish a forest fire with a water pistol,” Keyes said. “Given such a response, no one should be surprised that instead of abating, the flames have only spread.

“Chief Fitzgerald is more concerned with political capital and upward mobility then with the welfare of the community. I must respect his official position, but I no longer respect his judgment. For someone that constantly claims to never have had a bad day in his life, he continuously makes bad decisions,” Keyes said.

“We are sitting on a Powderkeg due to explode at any moment,” said Rev. B.R. Daniels Jr. of Greater New Hope Church.

Community leaders say tensions between the black community and police are higher than ever.

They’re calling on elected officials to fire Chief Joel Fitzgerald.

“We did not need Joel Fitzgerald to come to Fort Worth to make sure that people continue to get mistreated,” Rev. Daniels said

Chief Fitzgerald’s office declined to comment on Keyes’ statements.