Former Fort Worth Police Chief Testifies, Equates Termination to Professional ‘Death Sentence'

In a Dallas courtroom Tuesday, former Fort Worth police chief Joel Fitzgerald took the witness stand at a hearing which will determine if an injunction will continue to prevent the city from hiring a permanent replacement.

"It has been a death sentence, I should say, for me pursuant to procuring employment," Fitzgerald said regarding his May termination.

Fitzgerald claimed he has received 105 rejection letters, testifying Tuesday that his termination, which was labeled as a "general discharge" rather than an honorable discharge, has affected his ability to find another job.

His testimony reflected his belief that he was unjustly fired, claiming his termination came after he reported city corruption to the FBI. The hearing has centered on issues within the IT department and the system used by the Fort Worth Police Department to access federal information, known as CJIS.

"I did not report to the DA's office or the Texas Rangers or the AG's office, because I wanted an outside agency that I thought that no one could control or influence any aspect of the investigation," Fitzgerald testified.

The city has maintained their position that Fitzgerald was fired due to his "increasing lack of good judgment."

In court Tuesday, Fitzgerald testified he was never under investigation by the city. Christopher Troutt, senior assistant city attorney for Fort Worth, pointed out the role of a "police chief" is considered as a "general employee" in the city of Fort Worth, which does not require an investigation before termination.

"So, a general employee with Fort Worth can walk in his boss' office and be told, 'You're fired,' right?" questioned Troutt.

"They can, yes," Fitzgerald answered.

Fitzgerald was expected to be called back to the stand Wednesday morning for re-direct examination.

Fort Worth city manager David Cooke is also expected to testify in this hearing.

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