In November, Officers J.C. Williams, C. Cespedes, D. Shaw, and J. Pittman notified internal affairs that they believed their narcotics unit sergeant was sleeping with sex workers and covering for them and their clients. They also indicated that the lieutenant may be involved in the scandal.
The allegations were quickly dismissed by internal affairs, and Police Chief Rhonda Robertson has alleged that the officers committed a premeditated act to retaliate against their supervisors for changes made to their job assignments.
Internal affairs determined that there was not enough evidence to launch an investigation into the officers’ claims, as the officers had used a photo spread that was not approved by the department when asking the sex workers if they could identify the superiors as their clients.
“Officer Pittman advised them it was done because his team was mad their long-term case was hijacked, their schedules were changed resulting in no longer having Fridays off, and their work hours were changed,” Robertson wrote in a letter. “It became apparent that the officers were irritated with their supervision, and this motivated them to seek embarrassing information about him to undermine his authority and reputation,” the department claimed.
Three of the men were suspended for ten days and are all appealing the decision, while the fourth was suspended for five days and has not filed an appeal as of yet.
“We look forward to our day in arbitration,” Jim Lane, an attorney representing the three who are appealing, told the Star Telegram.
The suspensions have raised some eyebrows, however, as many point out a pattern within police departments of punishing or retaliating against whistleblowers in their ranks.
In February, Curt Stansbury of Wilmington, North Carolina, was fired for exposing corruption within his department.
“I told him that rookies were being hazed and pressured to quit. I informed him that divisions were not communicating with each other and that the communication was at an all time low and that is cause of some of the violent crime issues,” Stansbury stated.
In 2006, Shanna Lopez of Dallas, Texas, was fired after reporting Officer David Kattner, a 26-year veteran of the Dallas Police Department, as a sexual predator. Kattner was arrested in late December 2014, eight years after Lopez’ warning, for sexually assaulting a woman on three separate occasions while in uniform and in his police vehicle.
Joe Crystal, formerly of the Baltimore Police Department and the son of two NYPD officers, was subject to severe intimidation and harassment — including having a dead rat placed on his vehicle — for reporting a fellow officer for brutally beating a man who was already dead. Crystal resigned from the force after two years of harassment from fellow officers and supervisors.
The appeals of the three officers in Fort Worth are still pending.