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Suspension overturned in demoted Fort Worth deputy chief’s alleged viral video leak

Demoted Fort Worth police officer criticizes chief

Capt. Vance Keyes, demoted Friday from deputy chief, criticizes Chief Joel Fitzgerald for what he said he believes is too severe a punishment.
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Capt. Vance Keyes, demoted Friday from deputy chief, criticizes Chief Joel Fitzgerald for what he said he believes is too severe a punishment.

The three-day suspension of a Fort Worth police official accused of leaking video from a controversial arrest has been overturned.

Vance Keyes, a former deputy chief with the Fort Worth Police Department, will receive back pay and any benefits he would have accrued had he not been suspended, said John Snider, the attorney representing Keyes in his appeal.

“The suspension should never have occurred and that’s why it was important to him,” Snider said. “We felt there was never any proof that he violated policy as alleged.”

Keyes, along with then-former Assistant Chief Abdul Pridgen, were both demoted to captain in May 2017 by then-Fort Worth Police Chief Joel Fitzgerald.

Fitzgerald, who has since been fired from the department, accused Keyes and Pridgen of leaking an officer’s body cam video and personnel file information to the media concerning an arrest which garnered national attention.

The arrest of Jacqueline Craig and her two daughters went viral in December 2016 and caused a cascading series of events that have yet to be resolved. Craig said she called police because a neighbor had choked her son.

The officer who initiated the Craig family arrest, William Martin, was suspended for 10 days.

According to Snider, city officials decided not to pursue the case because of concerns that Fitzgerald would not be able to provide testimony in the appeal.

“I think they should have been concerned about proving it even with his availability,” Snider said. “Appropriately, they chose to let it end the way that they did.”

Fort Worth police officials referred inquiries to the city’s legal department.

City officials sent a statement Thursday night saying, “A motion was filed to rescind and cancel the disciplinary appeal hearing the matter of the 3-day suspension of Captain Vance Keyes. The decision maker is no longer employed with the City and would have to be subpoenaed to appear. Keyes will receive back pay for 3 days if the order to rescind the 3-day suspension is signed by the Hearing Examiner.”

Keyes and Pridgen have filed lawsuits that are still pending. Keyes is serving as a captain with the Fort Worth Police Department, while Pridgen left Fort Worth to become the chief of police in Seaside, California.

This story includes information from Star-Telegram archives.

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Mitch Mitchell is an award-winning reporter covering courts and crime for the Star-Telegram. Additionally, Mitch’s past coverage on municipal government, healthcare and social services beats allow him to bring experience and context to the stories he writes.
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