Former Fort Worth Police Chief Joel Fitzgerald won’t get a public hearing about his firing, as he has requested, after the city attorney said Fitzgerald failed to invoke that right in a timely manner, the Dallas Morning News reported.
Fitzgerald’s attorney, Stephen Kennedy, said that since the former chief was fired via a memo from the assistant city manager, a hearing wasn’t possible. He called the firing “invalid” in a letter to city attorney Sarah Fullenwider, saying that city officials violated provisions in the city charter, the newspaper reported.
Kennedy demanded the city reverse the termination before holding a public hearing and that a roll-call vote then be taken by the city council on whether to fire Fitzgerald.
“The authority to appoint and remove directors is vested solely with the city manager, and the city council is not authorized to render the type of relief you are requesting on behalf of your client,” Fullenwider replied in a letter.
The city fired Fitzgerald in May after a string of incidents, including the then chief getting into a heated argument with the president of the Combined Law Enforcement Associations of Texas at a conference in Washington, D.C.
Fitzgerald filed a whistleblower suit against the city in June, alleging he was fired because he reported to the FBI that the city wasn’t in compliance with regulations of the Criminal Justice Information System
In that suit, Fitzgerald is seeking more than $1 million in damages from the city and to be reinstated with back pay or to be given pay in lieu of reinstatement.