A Fort Worth police sergeant fired more than a year ago for allegedly using excessive force may soon get his badge back – and paid for nearly the entire time he was gone.
Sgt. Kenneth Pierce appealed his firing and his case was set to go to a hearing on Wednesday.
But in a major about-face, the city has agreed to reinstate him, according to two sources familiar with the matter. Pierce agreed to a suspension of less than 60 days, which he has already served.
Chief Joel Fitzgerald fired Pierce after reviewing body camera footage of an incident in August 2017.
Dorshay Morris had called 911 to report a case of domestic violence.
“My boyfriend is trying to bust out the windows of my car and he keeps trying to kick my door in,” she told a 911 operator.
She also threatened to stab her boyfriend in self-defense.
“Do you have a knife in your hand?” the 911 operator asked.
“Yes I do and I don’t have no problem with using it,” she responded.
Sgt. Pierce, a 22-year-veteran, responded with a rookie officer.
The officers searched her purse for weapons and asked for her identification.
According to the chief, Morris was cooperating when Pierce got impatient, grabbed her hair unnecessarily and ordered the rookie to use a Taser on her.
An internal investigation found Morris never should have been arrested and charges were dropped.
But another department expert said Pierce did not violate use-of-force policies.
He appealed the firing.
And now, comes word of the deal.
“Totally unacceptable,” said Fort Worth activist Pastor Kyev Tatum. “You’re going to now give him a paid vacation while you decide to compromise justice. And we’re telling the city to fight for it.”
Tatum said he sees it as a racial incident.
“It’s sending the wrong message at a time when we’re trying to heal and rebuild relationships in Fort Worth,” he said.
Earlier last year, the FBI and Tarrant County District Attorney both declined to prosecute Pierce, sources said.
On Monday, the city, the department, and Pierce’s attorney declined comment.
Morris’ attorney, Jasmine Crockett, said it was “infuriating” that Pierce may get his job back.
A year before Pierce was fired, another racially-charged case involving Fort Worth police made national headlines.
Officer William Martin was suspended for 10 days after he arrested a Fort Worth mother, Jacqueline Craig, who had called 911 to report her neighbor assaulted her young son.
A police department news release in December 2017 announcing Pierce’s firing said the two cases were “eerily reminiscent.”
Just two weeks ago, five Fort Worth officers were fired and two others suspended after an investigation faulted them in the death of a burglary suspect in their custody.