Former Fort Worth police chief files whistleblower lawsuit

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Greater Fort Worth BPWC

Joel Fitzgerald, the former Fort Worth police chief who was fired in May, has filed a whistleblower lawsuit against the city, the Fort Worth Star-Telegram reported.

The lawsuit alleges Fitzgerald was fired because he reported to the FBI that the city wasn’t in compliance with regulations of the Criminal Justice Information System. That suit, filed late last week, alleges that City Manager David Cooke called Fitzgerald into a meeting with him and other city officials two hours before the then-chief was to meet with the FBI.

The suit alleges Fitzgerald was offered cash if he would agree not to sue the city or provide support for others suing the city for whistleblower violations. If he did not agree, Fitzgerald would be fired with cause, the lawsuit alleges. He chose that option and was terminated, according to the complaint.

Fitzgerald also alleges in the lawsuit that a confrontation between him and Todd Harrison, president of the Combined Law Enforcement Associations of Texas, at a conference in Washington, D.C., was orchestrated by union leaders. Fitzgerald said he was kicked out of the union because he has a poor relationship with Terry Daffron, an attorney for the union.

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, the newspaper reported.

Assistant City Manager Susan Alanis told the Star-Telegram in an email that the allegations from Fitzgerald are “absurd” and that the city “stands behind the decision to terminate the Chief’s employment.”

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