An assistant chief and a deputy chief in the Fort Worth Police Department have been questioned in an investigation into who leaked confidential information – the latest fallout in the controversial videotaped arrest of Jacqueline Craig.
Assistant Chief Abdul Pridgen and Deputy Chief Vance Keyes have hired prominent criminal defense attorneys and have been temporarily replaced in their positions, said several people familiar with the reassignments and the legal developments.
Both men are still considered to be on duty, said department spokesperson Lt. Paula Fimbres. She said she could not explain why others are filling the chiefs' duties.
The move is the latest twist in the aftermath of the arrest of Craig and her two daughters on Dec. 21.
Craig reported that a neighbor had choked her young son in a dispute over littering.
When Officer William Martin arrived, he seemed to dismiss the mother's complaint, asking her why she didn't teach her son not to litter and suggesting it was OK for the neighbor to grab him.
As their conversation escalated, Martin threw Craig onto the ground and arrested her and her two daughters. One of the daughters recorded the incident with her cell phone and it quickly went viral, prompting national news stories and widespread community criticism.
Police Chief Joel Fitzgerald suspended Martin for 10 days.
Amid all this, someone leaked Martin's body-camera footage of the encounter and internal discipline records, and the department launched an investigation into who leaked it.
The department said the release of the video was illegal because it showed juveniles, and the internal records were supposed to be confidential.
Separate criminal and internal investigations are underway.
Fitzgerald has said he would try to charge the person or persons responsible with a crime.
Pridgen's attorney, Pete Schulte, denied Pridgen was the source of the leak and does not know who did leak the material.
"Chief Pridgen is an honorable man," Schulte said in a statement. "It is disturbing and unfortunate that the police department is focusing its investigation on two high-ranking African-American officers and has not reached beyond the police department."
Keyes's attorney, George Milner, also said his client did not leak anything.
"We are very disappointed the Fort Worth chief will not simply let this embarrassing episode die," he said. "It is an embarrassment to the good citizens of Fort Worth who have faith in their otherwise exemplary police department."
Milner said Keyes is cooperating with the investigation and has agreed to let investigators search his home computer to prove his innocence.
Department investigators early on seized a number of city computers and cell phones from high-ranking officers, NBC 5 has reported.