Ousted Fort Worth Chief Joel Fitzgerald Files Motion for Jury Hearing, Wants Job Back

Former chief wants whistleblower trial to be heard by a jury, attorney says

Stephen Kennedy, the attorney representing fired Fort Worth Chief of Police Joel Fitzgerald, said they filed a motion Monday asking for his whistleblower lawsuit to be heard by a jury as early as this December.

Kennedy said he asked for the special trial setting in Judge Gena Slaughter's 191st Civil District Court, where Fitzgerald's whistleblower suit is pending.

The court has not yet ruled on the motion to allow for a jury or set a date for the trial to begin.

Kennedy said Monday that even if Slaughter denies the motion, they will not give up, cease their efforts or go away.

Kennedy maintains Fitzgerald wants his job back leading the Fort Worth Police Department and said if his client was offered his old job today he take it back and move forward.

Fitzgerald, Kennedy said, proved his commitment by turning down a job in Baltimore and by reporting allegations of corruption at City Hall and by filing his whistleblower lawsuit calling for reinstatement as chief of police.

Supporters of the former chief, led by Pastor Kyev Tatum, said he has an "extraordinary, brilliant mind" and "understands that you cannot run a 1959 police-state police force in a 21-century community policing city.

"Our community is tired of the Fort Worth Police Department being out of control and we need Chief Fitzgerald to be reinstated," said Tatum.

Tatum made mention of 10 police-involved shootings that have taken place since Fitzgerald was fired May 20. Of those 10 incidents, seven of them involved blacks and the last three all involved people under the age of 30.

The most recent shooting occurred Saturday when black resident Atatiana Jefferson was killed in her own home as a white police officer responded to a call for a welfare check.

Body camera video released by the Fort Worth Police Department showed Dean walking around outside the house with a flashlight. He then stopped, pointed his flashlight at a window and then drew his gun after seeing a person watching him from inside the house.

Dean is heard commanding, "Put your hands up, show me your hands," before firing his weapon once, killing Jefferson.

"If this was the only one I guess we could say, 'Hey, a mistake is a mistake.' But we're going back to 2009 when Michael Jacobs was killed with 55 Tasers on a welfare check. We're talking about Ra-Ra Thomas who was taking his children for their birthday, police pulls them over, shoot 12 times in the car. We're talking about Kevin Goldstein who was going to the store, blocked in the front and the back, shot over 12 times. We're talking about so many others," Tatum said Monday.

In a news conference held along with Mayor Betsy Price and City Manager David Cook, interim Chief of Police Ed Kraus said, "Nobody looked at that video and said there was any doubt that this officer acted inappropriately."

"We're trying to train our officers better, we're trying to shore up our policies and we're trying to ensure they act and react the way that the citizens intend them to, that they act and react with a servants heart instead of a warriors heart. There are times for officers to act as warriors and defenders, and there are times for them to act as public servants and humble servants," Kraus said.

When asked about Fitzgerald, and calls from some in the community who claim his leadership may have resulted in fewer shootings, Mayor Betsy Price said,"I'm not going to comment on former Chief Fitzgerald. I think it's an unnecessary distraction from a hurting community."

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