DALLAS — If Joel Fitzgerald will ever become the police chief in Fort Worth again, he’ll have to get there through a Dallas courtroom.
Six months after his firing, Fitzgerald’s attorneys are asking a Dallas County judge this week to continue a temporary restraining order.
The move would prevent the city of Fort Worth from naming a permanent replacement for Fitzgerald, effectively holding his job open for him.
The current restraining order expires Tuesday.
Fitzgerald was hired in October 2015.
When he was fired May 20, 2019, assistant city manager Jay Chapa described Fitzgerald in a memorandum that cited an “increasing lack of good judgment” and having a “track record of making decisions that are more focused on his best interest instead of the best interest of the city.”
The fired chief’s legal team sees it differently.
Attorney Stephen Kennedy says Fitzgerald was let go after he became a whistleblower for corruption, arguing he was fired hours before he was set to meet with FBI agents over alleged illegal access by employees to a sensitive criminal database.
Fitzgerald is expected to testify Tuesday.
The two-day hearing will determine if Fort Worth can move ahead in its search for a permanent police chief.
Also on the witness list: Fort Worth mayor Betsy Price, city manager David Cooke and assistant city manager Jay Chapa.
Fort Worth’s current police chief, Ed Kraus, took the stand Monday.
Kraus says he gave Fitzgerald a “general discharge," a distinction lower than “honorable discharge." During questioning, Kennedy said the general discharge distinction has made it difficult for Fitzgerald to find a police job since his firing.
“He asked you to change it, didn’t he?” Kennedy asked Kraus.
“He did,” Kraus replied.
“And you chose not to, correct?”
“Did you give him the general discharge as part of your deal with the city to become the new police chief?” Kennedy asked.
“No sir,” Kraus replied.
More on WFAA:
- Back to starting line for fired Fort Worth police chief
- City of Fort Worth can't hire a new police chief just yet, Dallas County judge rules
- Former Fort Worth police chief files suit against City
- 'Not the right time': City to look into confrontation between Fort Worth police chief, CLEAT president at national Top Cop Awards