In Custody Death Investigation
Fort Worth Police Dept
   
 
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Jan. 16, 2019

FORT WORTH, Texas -  On January 15, 2019, the Fort Worth Police Department concluded its administrative investigation on the in-custody death that occurred on July 26, 2018. Anytime there is a loss of life during any police contact we ensure that a thorough and fair investigation is conducted. The sanctity of life is the most important principle to the Fort Worth Police Department at all times. The results of the administrative investigation are as follows:

     On Thursday July 26, 2018 at 9:33 p.m. Fort Worth Police responded to a call in regards to a prowler located in the 3300 block of Griggs Ave. The caller reported that an unknown male armed with a gun was attempting to break in to the residence. This male was taken in to custody without incident.

     After the male was placed in handcuffs, he began to complain of medical issues. He was then placed in the back of a patrol vehicle by the officers but no medical aid was summoned.   

     Upon completing their investigation, the officers found the male to be unresponsive in the back of the patrol vehicle and began to render medical aid. At this time an ambulance was called and the male was transported to John Peter Smith Hospital where he was pronounced deceased.

      The Fort Worth Police Department Major Case Unit and Internal Affairs Unit began investigations in to this incident. Our investigation found that there were multiple violations of departmental policy, including failure to protect the rights of persons in police custody. A preliminary update was given to the Tarrant County District Attorney’s Office.

     The actions taken by the officers involved in this incident discovered during our investigation are not in accordance with the values of the Fort Worth Police Department or the standards that the citizens of Fort Worth have for their police department.  We hope that the administrative conclusion of this case is an assurance to the residents of Fort Worth that we are able to identify and properly address any issues that may arise during police incidents.

      On a daily basis, Fort Worth Police Officers devote themselves to the safety of the citizens of Fort Worth and those that are in custody. Those efforts do not go unnoticed by the Fort Worth Police supervision. In this rare instance when this did not occur we moved to address it properly.

     Throughout this process, Chief Fitzgerald and other command staff members have been in regular contact with the family of the deceased. The family has continually requested privacy and we will continue to respect their wishes. Additionally, the actions of the involved officers are still pending a Grand Jury review and that prevents us from providing additional information at this time.

     The following discipline was applied as a result of our administrative investigation:

  • Officer T Stephens #4418 was indefinitely suspended (employment terminated).
  • Officer D Pritzker #4383 was indefinitely suspended (employment terminated).
  • Officer C Golden #4372 was indefinitely suspended (employment terminated).
  • Officer H Fellhauer #4270 was indefinitely suspended (employment terminated).
  • Officer M Miller #4520 was indefinitely suspended (employment terminated).   
  • Officer S Smith #3758 was suspended without pay for 90 days, in lieu of termination.  He has forfeited his right to appeal.
  • Officer A Scharf # 4415 was suspended for 5 days without pay.

 

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