A Fort Worth, Texas, police sergeant and 22-year veteran was recently fired for urging a rookie police officer to tase a woman while they were on duty together, the Fort Worth Police Department announced Monday.
Sergeant Kenneth Pierce was fired for violating the department’s code of conduct while responding to a domestic disturbance call in August. The department’s mandatory use-of-force review provided bodycam evidence of his misconduct.
The incident in question began when a woman called the Fort Worth Police Department to report a domestic disturbance. Pierce and an unnamed female officer new to the force responded, and bodycam video shows Pierce and the other officer and asking a couple in their home to turn around and face a wall. The woman refused to do so, telling the officers that her baby was inside.
“Y’all going for the wrong people,” the woman’s boyfriend said. When the rookie officer asked the pair if they got into an argument, the man responded “no.”
The rookie officer then asked the woman to hand over her identification. “I don’t have to hand her anything,” the woman said to the officers. Pierce responded, “Turn around and hand her your ID or you’re going in handcuffs and going to jail.” The rookie officer then grabbed the woman’s arm and attempted to handcuff her.
Trying to escape from the police as they repeatedly tried to handcuff her, she yelled, “Don’t touch me! Let your hands off me!”
Pierce then ordered the younger officer to tase the woman. After the woman was shocked by the taser and fell to the ground, the rookie officer threatened to tase her two more times.
“I’m confident that everyone who sees this video, including members of this department, will agree this supervisor’s response and subsequent behaviors are absolutely unacceptable,” Fort Worth Police Chief Joel Fitzgerald said after firing Pierce, according to the Daily Mail. “We are built on a foundation of being problem solvers.
Pierce responded in an opposite manner, and he escalated the situation, endangering everyone involved, including his fellow officers.”
Terry Daffron, a lawyer for the Combined Law Enforcement Association of Texas, told the Star-Telegram that he does not believe that Pierce behaved incorrectly in the situation and will be representing Pierce in his appeal.
“They are making claims that Pierce escalated the situation, and I don’t see it that way. I see that she was completely noncompliant with everything she was asked to do. He came in and was trying to help the rookie officer gain control to try to get her to comply.”
According to Fitzgerald, the department has contacted the woman multiple times but has not heard back from her. Her face in the video was blurred out to maintain her anonymity.
Fitzgerald also said that Pierce’s actions do “not represent the vast majority of the department’s encounters with the public.”
“Even in tough and challenging times, our officers demonstrate leadership, patience and de-escalation tactics in their daily work. In my mind, all people should be treated with dignity and respect. That’s non-negotiable.”