FORT WORTH, Texas — An attorney for Fort Worth's former top cop informed city officials in a letter Monday that his client wants his job back, and is seeking back pay as well.
It's a fascinating development surrounding Joel Fitzgerald's battle against Fort Worth.
Last week, a Dallas County judge ruled that the city can't hire a replacement until both parties meet in court next week about Fitzgerald's recent and abrupt termination.
Fitzgerald was fired in May following three-and-a-half years as the city's police chief.
During that time, there was no shortage of conflict or challenges.
He scored low when the city's officers were surveyed about his leadership and how he handled high-profile situations.
Earlier this year, he threw the city a curveball when he seemingly accepted and then declined to be Baltimore's new police commissioner.
City Manager David Cooke said there were many factors that led to the decision to fire the chief.
"I don't know if I could tell you the biggest issue," Cooke said at the time. "I think over time it's a series of items."
In a termination letter to Fitzgerald, Assistant City Manager Jay Chapa wrote that Fitzgerald was being let go because of his "increasing lack of good judgment."
In the two-page letter, Chapa said Fitzgerald failed to build relationships with rank and file, manage the department's budget, and create rapport with the community and top administrators within FWPD.
Fitzgerald filed a civil suit against the city fighting his termination and alleging he was fired because he was a whistleblower.
He alleged Fort Worth city officials falsely claimed the city was in compliance with crime reporting to the federal government and that the former chief, “learned city officials intentionally destroyed documents that were required to be maintained for public access.”
Fitzgerald also plans to file litigation regarding racial discrimination.
Amidst everything, the Texas Workforce Commission recently ruled that Fitzgerald did nothing to warrant a termination.
The city and Fitzgerald are set to meet in court on August 1st.
In a letter to city officials Monday, Fitzgerald's attorney Stephen Kennnedy wrote that the ex-chief will ask to be reinstated immediately.
He argued that "all directors are to be given a public hearing before termination is made final if the director so requests."
Kennedy said his client never got that opportunity and that Fitzgerald still wants to serve Fort Worth.
"For no reason at all, the City of Fort Worth simply decided we don't want you anymore we're just going to terminate you," Kennedy said.
"He has a job to do, he was hired to come to Fort Worth and fix the issues involving racial discrimination...he's not done with that."
Kennedy said that Fitzgerald is seeking back pay in the amount of $62,000.
The hearing could last several days and top city officials may be deposed before then or be asked to testify in open court.
A judge will ultimately decide if the city violated its charter and if Fitzgerald can be reinstated, Kennedy said.
In the meantime, Corey Session told WFAA that Fort Worth looks ridiculous.
Session is a former board member for the city's Race and Culture Task Force.
When asked how the city looks in all this, he answered, "petty."
"If they're not going to keep their word with him, why would a potential company come here? Why would a resident come here?" Session said.
The City of Fort Worth never responded to WFAA about the letter sent Monday morning.