Fort Worth

Fort Worth Officers to Learn Discipline After Man in Custody Died

Christopher Lowe died while in police custody on July 27, 2018

Seven Fort Worth police officers, who have been on desk duty since a man died in custody six months ago, are set to learn their discipline in a series of meetings on Tuesday, their attorney said.

The attorney, Terry Daffron, declined comment until after the meetings, but confirmed they are taking place.

Christopher Lowe, 55, died soon after he was handcuffed and placed in the back of a police car July 27 on Griggs Avenue.

A homeowner had called 911 to report a man was hitting the hood of her pickup with a pipe and then started to bang on her front door.

According to a police news release at the time, Lowe started to complain of medical issues, but officers left him in the squad car without calling an ambulance while they talked to witnesses.

The officers later found him "unresponsive" and he was pronounced dead at a hospital.

"The police officers ignored his calls, his pleas for help," said Rev. Michael Bell, one of the department's fiercest critics. "He wanted medical attention."

Bell said someone should be fired, but isn't optimistic.

"The ones who were immediately responsible should be terminated," he said.

The Tarrant County Medical Examiner found that Lowe's death was due to a cocaine overdose.

The incident was captured on video by the officers' body cameras, but police haven't released it, citing the ongoing investigation.

The officers' discipline could range from nothing, to a few days' suspension without pay, to termination.

All this comes amid questions about the future of police chief Joel Fitzgerald.

He recently withdrew his name to be police commissioner in Baltimore.

Fort Worth's city manager David Cooke questioned Fitzgerald's "commitment" to staying here and said he planned to discuss it with the chief soon.

"In my mind, he had already chosen to go to, you know, Baltimore," Cooke said last week.

Fitzgerald now says he wants to stay, but is taking time off after his son underwent surgery for a brain tumor at Cook Children's Medical Center.

The 13-year-old went home over the weekend.

While Fitzgerald spends time with his son, assistant chief Ed Kraus is serving as acting chief.

Department spokesman Sgt. Chris Britt said he wasn't sure when Fitzgerald would return to duty, but said that he is staying in the loop on important matters even while he is away from his office.

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