Fired Fort Worth PD chief asks city to hand over digital files he says are part of cover-up

Fired Fort Worth Police Chief Joel Fitzgerald was in court Wednesday for a hearing in a case that claims he was terminated for exposing a cover-up in city government.

Fitzgerald's team is asking Civil District Judge Monica Purdy to force the city to turn over digital files of several staffers they say are involved in an alleged cover-up, including emails and internal instant messages.

“It's our position that the city is trying to hide the ball and not produce documents that are relevant to the case and not produce witnesses that we need to demonstrate Dr. Fitzgerald's claims in this action,” said Fitzgerald attorney Stephen Kennedy.

“Fitzgerald was informed that the city had fabricated evidence concerning compliance with the criminal justice information systems which allows you to have access to the FBI's online data base. He contends the city has destroyed digital data and he was about to report that with an affidavit from someone to the FBI and make several arrests before he was terminated.”

Fitzgerald's team, as part of its argument, included the deposition of a city employee who describes being instructed to get rid of files. 

A: The instant messaging chats were removed, and also we were not instructed to save any information.

Q: Okay. And which instant message chats in particular?

A: Between the different individuals and the IT department.

The city's attorneys argued Fitzgerald's request for files was too broad and would involve volumes of private data unrelated to the case. 

The judge asked Fitzgerald's team if it could narrow its scope. His attorney replied that could compromise the very thing he's trying to prove -- that the files have been altered.

“So what we're trying to get now is, we're trying to get those files that we contend the city destroyed and demonstrate that the witnesses who have testified that the city has destroyed evidence is actually true,” Kennedy said.

The judge said she would rule on the matter by the end of the week.

A hearing set for September 24 will have Fitzgerald's attorneys requesting that he be reinstated as Fort Worth's police chief.