FORT WORTH (CBSDFW.COM) — One day after a Fort Worth police officer fatally shot 28-year-old Atatiana Jefferson in her own home, an attorney representing former police chief Joel Fitzgerald said if he had been reinstated “Atatiana probably would be alive today.”
Just before 2:30 a.m. Saturday, police responded to a welfare call in the 1200 block of E. Allen Avenue, where a neighbor of Jefferson’s grew concerned when he noticed her front door was ajar.
When officers arrived, they searched the perimeter of the house and saw Jefferson standing inside the residence, near a window.
In a statement released Oct. 12, the Fort Worth Police Department said an officer — whose name has not yet been released — perceived a threat then drew his weapon. He fired one shot, striking and killing Jefferson. She died at the scene.
Fitzgerald’s attorney Stephen Kennedy said in a statement Sunday that since his removal as police chief, Fort Worth has taken significant steps backward.
I again demand that the City of Fort Worth reinstate Dr. Fitzgerald or grant him a public hearing concerning his termination in accordance with the City Charter for the City of Fort Worth. The City Attorney of Fort Worth must act. Failure to act in accordance with the law has led this City to chaos. It’s time to stop playing politics.Local editorial boards who purchase ink by the barrel and have unlimited airtime should join me in demanding that the City act in accordance with its Charter. If not now, when? If not us, who?Had Dr. Fitzgerald been reinstated months ago, Atatiana probably would be alive today, and the number of police shootings would not be in double digits.
And as for Fitzgerald, he criticized and questioned the city’s handling of the aftermath of the fatal shooting, claiming that Fort Worth has become a city of hate.
During this time of crisis, where is the interim police chief? Where is POA President Manny Ramirez? Where is Mayor Price? Why weren’t they at Sunday’s press conference? Why was no substantive information provided? On May 19, 2019, when my department successfully rescued an abducted girl from a kidnapper, they raced to the microphone to seek credit and fame. Yet today, when our community needs them more than ever, they are noticeably and inexcusably absent. There is a vacuum of leadership and these individuals must be held accountable. They are, in a sense, accomplices because they facilitate a system that reinforces social stratification, inequality, and hostility. In just a few short months, we have become a city of hate. Our leaders must be held accountable.
Fitzgerald was fired in May after his judgment and leadership skills were called into question following a confrontation he had at the 2019 Top Cop Awards in Washington, D.C.
He and Kennedy have since been fighting to get his job back.