Police Capt. Abdul Pridgen, the former assistant chief who is accused of leaking an officer’s bodycam video and personnel file in the Jacqueline Craig arrest, should not be further demoted to sergeant, the Civil Service Commission ruled Thursday, rejecting Police Chief Joel Fitzgerald’s recommended discipline.
The decision — the result of one of the two commission members not seconding a motion to find probable cause against Pridgen — surprised Fitzgerald, who attended the meeting.
The commission is typically a three-person panel. But several weeks ago, Vice Chairman Joel Aguilar Villanueva resigned from his post, leaving only Chairman Ricky Torlincasi and member Nommo Donald to preside over Thursday’s meeting.
After about 30 minutes in executive session, Torlincasi moved to find probable cause against Pridgen and proceed with a hearing to determine whether he should be demoted. Donald, however, did not second the motion, so the issue was dropped and the meeting adjourned.
According to Civil Service Commission rules, two members qualify as a quorum to conduct meetings and hearings.
“We’re talking to [city attorneys] now and we’re going to see what options we have,” Fitzgerald said. “We have civil service rules and if the civil service hearing was conducted by two people and that was legal, then we have to go by their determination, unless there is some other legal precedent that exists that says otherwise.”
The personnel file and bodycam video at issue were those of officer William Martin, whose questionable behavior and arrests of Fort Worth resident Jacqueline Craig and her two daughters Dec. 21 have led to widespread criticism of him and the Police Department. Martin is white and the women are black.
Lee Merritt, one of Craig’s attorneys, provided the documents and bodycam video of the arrests to The Associated Press. He said at the time he received the footage from a “trusted source.”