Fort Worth officers 'reassigned' after body cam leak
FORT WORTH, Texas - Two top brass of the Fort Worth Police Department were 'reassigned' after a body cam leak investigation.
Police Chief Joel Fitzgerald announced Friday night that both Assistant Police Chief Abdul Pridgen and Deputy Chief Vance Keyes were removed from the executive staff and returned to the rank of captain. He also recommended for the Civil Service Commission that Pridgen be returned to sergeant, two ranks below captain.
Keyes was also suspended for three days without pay.
"This is one of the most difficult decisions I've had to make as a police chief," Fitzgerald said.
The leaked body came shows Officer William Martin taking Jacqueline Craig to the ground in handcuffs and arresting her daughters last December. Martin's personnel file was also leaked. The arrests led to protests and allegations of racial discrimination.
Officer Martin was suspended for 10 days following the controversial arrest and is still with the police department.
Fitzgerald explained the investigation found that the leaked files were downloaded to a flash drive from Pridgen's computer. Video and security evidence confirmed both Pridgen and Keyes were in his office at the time. The files were then uploaded to a public site by someone outside of the department.
"Both of these men were in a chain of command that oversees the internal affairs section, and they had a unique duty to protect that information," Fitzgerald said. "Someone once said there's no right way to a wrong thing. I think that applies here."
Pridgen’s attorney identified him as one of the officers targeted by the leak investigation, saying he had no involvement in the leak. Pridgen walked into police headquarters Friday afternoon for a meeting with the chief.
Keyes’ attorney joined Pridgen's attorney with tweets that both command staff officers have been demoted.
Even before the chief made his announcement, Fort Worth Mayor Betsy Price released a statement saying the chief can unappoint any officer for any reason.
"I know he took these actions with careful consideration using the findings from the police department's investigation," she said. "But I support our chief in this decision."
Attorney Lee Merritt, who is representing Craig, was critical of the news.
"When compared to the decision to offer William Martin only a short suspension and the possibility of promotion, the core values in the department become clear: an officer that assaults black women and children, falsifies documents, repeatedly violates citizen's rights -- that's no big deal," Merritt said in a statement. "But if officers break with the long-standing tradition of turning a blind eye to brutality, corruption and racism, this will not be tolerated."