FORT WORTH (CBSDFW.COM) — In an appeal to the state for denying him unemployment benefits, former Fort Worth Police Chief Joel Fitzgerald provided further details on why he believes whistle blowing on corruption, and racial discrimination played a part in his firing.
In the appeal sent this week, Fitzgerald wrote that he was tasked with turning around a department “operating as if it was in the 1950s.” When he tried to make changes, he wrote that city employees “did not support this way of thinking.”
He said his discipline of more than 50 officers included “primarily white men.”
And a memo he wrote to himself, something the city cited in its termination letter, he said was in order to document “what other white police chiefs make in cities of similar population.”
The appeal was filed the same week Fitzgerald’s attorney, Stephen Kennedy, demanded a public hearing from the city over the decision. He cited the city’s charter allowing for the request, only to have city attorney Sarah Fullenwider respond that the request was not timely.
The charter section cited does not specify a time in which such a request should be made.
However, Fullenwider said it should have happened at least before the city council approved Ed Kraus as the new interim chief May 28.
After the denial, Kennedy wrote Friday that the last thing the city wants is for the public to have an opportunity to be heard on the decision.
He brought up recent officer involved shootings in the city, involving African American men and white officers, writing “if Dr. Fitzgerald had been on the scene, the result likely would have been different.”
In his appeal, Fitzgerald also included pictures of text messages between himself and an assistant city manager, that indicated there was “no investigation specifically” over a public disagreement with union officials in Washington D.C. The city cited that incident in its termination letter.
The appeal also included a deposition of city manager David Cooke taken in April in another legal matter.
In it, Cooke was asked if he regretted recommending the city hire Fitzgerald as police chief, to which he responded “No.”
Fitzgerald filed a whistleblower lawsuit against the city last month. He argues that his efforts to ensure the city complied with federal standards on a criminal justice information system, also led to his firing.