FORT WORTH -- A veteran Fort Worth Police officer will fight to get his job back after he was put on an indefinite suspension.
Sgt. Kenneth Pierce has served in the department for 22 years, but he was terminated yesterday. Fort Worth Police Chief Joel Fitzgerald said in a statement that his termination was a result of "multiple violations" during an incident in August. The department released body camera footage from a domestic violence call that showed Pierce ordering a woman tased after she refused to hand over ID.
According to Chief Fitzgerald's charging letter released by Fort Worth PD, the department's Internal Affairs Unit concluded "Sergeant Pierce used unreasonable force to complete the arrest of the involved individual. There was no basis for the initial arrest; therefore, any force used to apply handcuffs was unreasonable."
"Sergeant Pierce failed to make any attempt to de-escalate the situation, instead, inserting himself in a manner that caused the situation to deteriorate," Fitzgerald wrote.
The charging letter also says Pierce "may have misrepresented facts in his report narrative for the purpose of creating probable cause."
The dismissal of Pierce comes roughly a year after the Fort Worth Police Department was embroiled in a scandal over the arrest of Jacqueline Craig, a story that got national attention.
Today, the Fort Worth Police Officer's Association sharply criticized the Chief's decision and suggested that it was politically motivated.
"Chief Fitzgerald and the chain of command got this one wrong," said Sgt. Rick Van Houten, president of the Fort Worth Police Officer's Association.
Van Houten released 9-1-1 audio with the voice of Dorshay Morris, the woman who was arrested and tased. She called to report a domestic disturbance and is heard telling the dispatcher she has a knife and is ready to use it. Van Houten and Pierce's attorney, Terry Daffron, said the call is important context to understand the officer's actions.
Body camera footage shows Morris turning the knife over to officers before she was tased and arrested, but Van Houten said she could still have been a threat.
"Just because you've taken one weapon away, you have to assume there's another weapon," he said.
Morris told WFAA she spent five days in jail before she was released and charges against her of resisting arrest and aggravated assault were dropped. She said she is pleased that Pierce was dismissed, but she would also like the officer who fired the taser to be terminated.
The Police Officer's Association said the actions on the body camera video, including pulling hair and tasing, were in accordance with department policy. This dismissal, they said, will have a chilling effect on other officers.
"The message has been sent by Chief Fitzgerald to the officers of this department that they will be sacrificed for his political agendas," said Van Houten.
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