The Fort Worth Police Chief faced harsh criticism from the city's police association on Wednesday, with complaints of low morale and inadequate training.
The complaints are centered on the case of Courtney Johnson, who was fired for shooting a man carrying a BBQ fork. Johnson was acquitted of all charges related to the shooting, but was fired from the police force.
"I am not nor have I ever been a racist. I did not make racist comments to Craigory Adams on June 23, 2015," Johnson said. "The shooting of Mr. Adams was unintentional and I am truly sorry that it happened."
Johnson maintains that an involuntary reflex caused him to fire his shotgun at Adams, who was just carrying a BBQ fork during the encounter. A mistrial was declared, and the District Attorney's office will not retry the case.
"During my criminal trial it was apparent by the Fort Worth Police Department's own experts that the training officers receive on the shotgun is inadequate," Johnson said. "Not one of these experts claimed that I was reckless as the chief stated. My concern is, since my incident, the training on shotguns has not changed."
Johnson and his reps claim that a separate high profile scuffle played a part in Johnson's firing. When officer William Martin unlawfully arrested Jacqueline Craig, there was negative feedback to Martin not being fired.
"I think that parallel can definitely be made," said lawyer Terry Daffron. "That the chief caught a lot of flak and a lot of people did not agree with his decision in Martin and I think that did influence his decision as it relates to Courtney Johnson."
Union president Rick Van Houten says the controversy around Johnson underscores a bigger problem: that morale within the police department is at its lowest point.
The city of Fort Worth disagrees with the police association's decision to hold a press conference. It released the following statement.
."While the City respects the Fort Worth Police Officers Association's decision to hold a press conference this afternoon, we respectfully disagree with their assertions. The shooting incident that ultimately led to Mr. Johnson's termination was incredibly unfortunate, but it was not a result of training inadequacies. The concerns raised by the FWPOA about morale within the police department are something we take very seriously, and we will continue to work with FWPOA and the Fort Worth Police Department leadership to ensure we have the best department in the nation, built on the dedication of our excellent men and women who protect our community."