Former Fort Worth police chief has his day in court delayed on whistleblower lawsuit

A new trial date has been set for a former Fort Worth police chief who alleged his firing was retaliation for his attempts to uncover city corruption.

A Dallas County civil court was scheduled to hear Joel Fitzgerald’s whistlerblower case in early January, but technical difficulties pushed the court date to Oct. 7.

Fitzgerald served at Fort Worth’s police chief from 2015 to 2019. He was fired in May 2019 shortly after getting into an argument with a police union leader at a conference in Washington, D.C.

City leaders accused the Fitzgerald an “increasing lack of good judgment,” pointing to his mismanagement both of the police department’s budget and his relationships with other city department heads, according to a letter from city manager David Cooke.

However, the Texas Workforce Commission ruled in July 2019 there was no evidence Fitzgerald had committed any work related misconduct, and in May 2020 a court ordered the city change his discharge designation to honorable.

Fitzgerald has pointed to the fact that his firing came hours before he was scheduled to meet with federal investigators over concerns the city had violated the Criminal Justice Information Systems Act. He alleged city employees lied about the city being in compliance with regulations needed to access a federal law enforcement database, and that the employees destroyed evidence to cover it up.

The former Fort Worth police chief unsuccessfully sued to stop the city from hiring his replacement. He now works as the chief of police and emergency management for the Regional Transportation District in Denver.