Two high-ranking Fort Worth police officials were demoted from department command staff to the rank of captain Friday, accused of leaking an officer’s body camera video from a controversial arrest and his personnel file.
Police Chief Joel Fitzgerald, who handed down the punishment, also recommended that Abdul Pridgen, formerly an assistant chief, be demoted to sergeant, pending approval from the Civil Service Commission. Fitzgerald recommended to the commission a three-day suspension for Vance Keyes, formerly a deputy chief. Both men plan appeals to the commission. Their attorneys question whether evidence found during the internal investigation is sufficient.
Fitzgerald announced the punishments at a news conference Friday evening, saying computer evidence linked Pridgen to the leak. Fitzgerald said both men were in Pridgen’s office when leaked information was being downloaded to an external hard drive.
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 arrested are black.
Lee Merritt, one of Craig’s attorneys, provided the documents and body cam video of the arrests to The Associated Press. He said at the time he received the footage from a trusted source.
Fitzgerald on Friday said evidence from the internal investigation showed that Martin’s confidential files were downloaded on Jan. 18 to an external storage device connected to Pridgen’s computer.
“We have video and security evidence that [Pridgen] and Keyes were in Pridgen’s office at that time,” Fitzgerald said. “And eventually, both officers confirmed those facts.”