FORT WORTH (CBSDFW.COM) – The Fort Worth Police Department announced the firing of five police officers and the suspension of two others on Tuesday, following the department’s administrative investigation after a man died in police custody on July 26, 2018.
“Anytime there is a loss of life during any police contact we ensure that a thorough and fair investigation is conducted. The sanctity of life is the most important principle to the Fort Worth Police Department at all times,” the Fort Worth Police Department said in a statement.
The incident began when Fort Worth Police responded to a call in regards to a prowler in the 3300 block of Griggs Ave.
The caller reported that a man armed with a gun was attempting to break in to a home. The suspect was taken into custody without incident.
According to the police investigation, after the man was placed in handcuffs, he began to complain of medical issues. He was then placed in the back of a patrol vehicle by the officers but no one called for medical help.
After completing their on-scene investigation, the officers found the man unresponsive in the back of the patrol vehicle and began to render medical aid. Someone called an ambulance and the man was taken to John Peter Smith Hospital where he was pronounced dead.
The Fort Worth Police Department Major Case Unit and Internal Affairs Unit began investigations in to this incident.
The Police Department said in a statement:
“Our investigation found that there were multiple violations of departmental policy, including failure to protect the rights of persons in police custody. A preliminary update was given to the Tarrant County District Attorney’s Office.
The actions taken by the officers involved in this incident discovered during our investigation are not in accordance with the values of the Fort Worth Police Department or the standards that the citizens of Fort Worth have for their police department. We hope that the administrative conclusion of this case is an assurance to the residents of Fort Worth that we are able to identify and properly address any issues that may arise during police incidents.
On a daily basis, Fort Worth Police Officers devote themselves to the safety of the citizens of Fort Worth and those that are in custody. Those efforts do not go unnoticed by the Fort Worth Police supervision. In this rare instance when this did not occur we moved to address it properly.
Throughout this process, Chief Fitzgerald and other command staff members have been in regular contact with the family of the deceased. The family has continually requested privacy and we will continue to respect their wishes. Additionally, the actions of the involved officers are still pending a Grand Jury review and that prevents us from providing additional information at this time.”
The names of the officers and their punishments are:
Officer T Stephens #4418 was indefinitely suspended (employment terminated).
Officer D Pritzker #4383 was indefinitely suspended (employment terminated).
Officer C Golden #4372 was indefinitely suspended (employment terminated).
Officer H Fellhauer #4270 was indefinitely suspended (employment terminated).
Officer M Miller #4520 was indefinitely suspended (employment terminated).
Officer S Smith #3758 was suspended without pay for 90 days, in lieu of termination. He has forfeited his right to appeal.
Officer A Scharf # 4415 was suspended for 5 days without pay.