Fort Worth

Fired Fort Worth detective wrote warrants, then did nothing with them, letter alleges

A Fort Worth police detective has been fired after a supervisor discovered that he had failed to get about a dozen warrants signed off by judges, some more than a year old.

Detective Christopher Fitzharris, who had been with the department since August 2005, was indefinitely suspended — tantamount to terminated — effective Feb. 6.

He is appealing.

His attorney could not immediately be reached for comment.

According to a disciplinary letter filed with the Civil Service Commission, Sgt. D. Davis, supervisor of the west criminal investigation unit, began to meet with Fitzharris in late August “in regards to what appeared to be a lack of work productivity and presence in the office.”

During their meeting, Davis conveyed to Fitzharris that she hadn’t approved any warrants from him in approximately two months.

Davis also consulted records, showing that Fitzharris’ name had been missing from the unit statistics for at least 180 days.

“Sergeant Davis was certain that she had read warrants written by Detective Fitzharris and signed numerous warrants in that time frame,” states the letter, signed by Police Chief Joel Fitzgerald.

Davis met with the detective again three times before he gave her a stack of 10 to 12 warrants that had been read, reviewed and signed off on by Davis or the previous unit’s supervisor over more than a year, the letter states.

After approval by a supervisor, warrants are presented by the detective to a judge for approval so that arrests or searches can be made. The detective had failed to do so, the letter indicates.

“This was discovered by a supervisor who was conducting a general, self-initiated review of the detectives assigned to her,” Sgt. Chris Britt, a police spokesman, said Wednesday. “Once she found this, she immediately took steps to ensure these cases were all handled appropriately as we expect all of our supervisors to do.”

Britt said that the warrants involved general assignment cases ranging from criminal mischief to theft and simple assault.

The letter accuses Fitzharris of failing to complete “a pivotal portion of his case work” and not judiciously using his work hours to successfully complete his job assignment or duties as an investigator. It alleges he broke department policies and procedures “with little regard to the statute of limitations on the cases he had been assigned.”

Britt said none of the impacted cases had reached their statute of limitations.

“Upon discovery of the mishandled warrants they were immediately completed and entered into the system,” Britt said.

Fitzharris is also accused of being insubordinate by wearing workout attire to work when instructed not to by his supervisor.

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For 23 years, Deanna Boyd has covered crime for the Star-Telegram. She digs deep into the stories behind the tragedies and hosts Out of the Cold, a podcast about unsolved murders in North Texas. She is a University of Texas at Austin graduate and has won several journalism awards through the years.