Fort Worth Mayor, Interim Police Chief Testify on Day 1 of Fitzgerald Hearing

Fort Worth maintains Fitzgerald was fired for an 'increasing lack of good judgment'

Monday, fired Fort Worth police chief Joel Fitzgerald appeared in a Dallas courtroom in his quest to be reinstated.

Fitzgerald, who was fired in May 2019, is suing the city of Fort Worth. There has been a restraining order in place prohibiting the city from hiring a permanent chief. That injunction expires this week.

"The issue presented is whether the city should be enjoined from hiring a permanent police chief pending the conclusion of the litigation," Fitzgerald’s attorney, Stephen Kennedy, said.

Kennedy says "there is a very long list of witnesses who have been subpoenaed," including Mayor Betsy Price, Jay Chapa, City Manager David Cooke and Interim Police Chief Ed Kraus.

Fitzgerald said he was fired when he started an investigation into city corruption. The city maintains he was fired for an "increasing lack of good judgment."

Former Fort Worth Police Chief Joel Fitzgerald said Sunday he’s a whistleblower who was fired within hours of meeting with the FBI about city hall corruption.

Fitzgerald claims he was fired for being a whistleblower and the termination happened minutes before he was set to meet with the FBI regarding his concerns.

Interim police Chief Ed Kraus was called to testify Monday regarding what he knew about Fitzgerald's termination and the timing of it.


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Kraus testified he was surprised to learn Fitzgerald was fired, and when asked if it was possible the city manager's office found out about the FBI meeting and wanted to terminate Fitzgerald, Kraus shrugged and said it was possible.

Much of Monday's testimony centered on issues within the IT department and the system the Fort Worth Police Department uses to access federal information, known as CJIS. 

Police officer Mason Fincher testified he had been investigating possible CJIS issues, but the investigation stopped after Fitzgerald was terminated.

A former IT worker testified she reported her concerns to Fitzgerald, then resigned a few days after he was fired, because she feared she would be retaliated against. 

The day ended with Fort Worth Mayor Betsy Price taking the stand. Price testified she supported the city manager's decision to fire Fitzgerald and had lost confidence in his abilities to lead the department.

Testimony will resume Tuesday morning.

It's expected Fort Worth City Manager David Cooke will testify along with Fitzgerald. 

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