Termination letters for four Fort Worth police officers who were fired within a month of each other reveal more details about what caused Chief Neil Noakes to let each person go.
The officers can appeal their termination, and according to an investigation by the Fort Worth Star-Telegram last year, they have a 50% shot at getting the jobs back.
The appeal process is part of an officer’s rights given to them through local government code and contracts between the city and police association, Noakes said in a January interview.
Noakes said even if an officer wins his or her job back, he will stand by his decision to fire them.
“If they get their jobs back, they have their jobs back and that is frustrating sometimes when it’s someone that a chief doesn’t believe models the behavior that we want to see in officers,” he said. “If an officer appeals and gets their job back, I’ll still own my decision.”
Offensive comments on Facebook video
Another Fort Worth police officer came across a video on Facebook that showed a man pointing a handgun at a woman while taking money from a register. In the comments, the officer saw that Chadwick Hughes wrote, “Dare I say it? Black at it again.”
Hughes has been an officer at the department since 2017 and had pictures of himself in uniform on his Facebook. He also identified himself as an officer.
When another person responded to Hughes’ comment saying, “I’m sure your father taught you that typical blue lives behavior,” the termination letter says he responded: “The black population makes up less than 15% of the American population but creates approximately 50% of violent crime. Facts are facts my man. Sorry you’re too much of a snowflake to handle the truth. As far as my father, at least I know who my father is unlike most of the black children growing up in America.”
When confronted during an internal investigation, Hughes admitted his comments made him look like a “racist cop,” according to the termination letter.
The police department was warned by a woman during Hughes’ background check that he had posted material on Facebook that didn’t make him seem tolerant toward other races.
Asked how Hughes responds to people of different races and cultures, the woman wrote that he “has friends of different races/ethnicities but my conversations with him and certain Facebook postings would give an outsider the impression that he is not a tolerant person.”
She said she would not recommend Hughes be hired.
Hughes was suspended in 2019 after he berated and used profanities toward a man whose vehicle he had hit with his patrol car while en route to a fight call, according to his personnel file.
Facebook meme led to firing
Kelly Kujawski was one of two officers investigated for posting racist material on social media. Both posts were reported to the department by fellow police officers, Noakes said.
On Feb. 4, Kujawski posted a meme on Facebook that, according to her termination letter, depicted a Hispanic man coming into the U.S. from Mexico under a barbed wire. The caption said, “If 11 million illegal aliens can help our economy, why didn’t they help their own economy?”
Kujawski identified herself as a police officer on her Facebook and posted pictures of herself in uniform.
The meme demonstrated bias toward Hispanic people, the letter says.
Kujawski joined the department in 2017.
DWI arrest in Grapevine
Gary Hawley, a lieutenant, was fired after his arrest on a driving while intoxicated charge in Grapevine.
Just after 3 p.m. on Dec. 8, police were sent to Cannon Elementary School about a man who was asleep in a parked vehicle in the school’s pick-up lane.
Hawley was found inside the vehicle with a child under 15. The termination letter does not give the exact age of that person.
Officers then called medics, believing that Hawley was suffering from a medical emergency. Asked if he had consumed alcohol, Hawley said, “Not that much,” according to the document.
A sobriety test showed that Hawley’s blood alcohol level was 0.272%. The legal limit is 0.08%. He admitted to drinking before driving to pick up the child from the school.
Fired after theft at Walmart
Scott Smith was caught in December stealing from Walmart, according to his termination letter.
On Dec. 14, a loss prevention employee at the store saw Smith grab a battery jump starter box, a Mandalorian ornament and a pair of football gloves.
Smith placed the other items inside of the battery jump starter box and went through the self-checkout, according to the letter. Smith scanned other items he had in his cart but didn’t scan the box, which also hid three more items.
When the loss prevention employee stopped him as Scott walked out of the doors, Scott refused to go into the loss prevention office and left the store. Video footage captured his license plate.
Smith was identified by a Crowley police officer. He was arrested on a charge of theft. The total amount of stolen items was $133.66, according to the letter.
Before his firing, Smith was suspended for his involvement in an in-custody death. Police were sent to 3304 Griggs Ave. for a reported prowler. They found Christopher Lowe, 55, and arrested him. According to body camera footage of his arrest, Lowe told police multiple times that he was dying and couldn’t breathe. His pleas were ignored and he died handcuffed in the back of a police cruiser while the officers came up with a plan to lie about his condition, according to a lawsuit filed by Lowe’s niece, who is also a Fort Worth officer.