Former Fresno police officer with links to Proud Boys sues City of Fresno over firing

Fresno Mayor Jerry Dyer, police chief Paco Balderrama, and city manager Thomas Esqueda have been named in the lawsuit.
FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- The former Fresno police officer who was fired after his associations with the Proud Boys came to light is now suing the City of Fresno.

Rick Fitzgerald's associations with the group first surfaced after he was seen attending the Tower Theatre protests in support of its sale to Adventure Church in March this year.

The police department quickly launched an investigation, and in early April, announced it had terminated Fitzgerald's employment.

In his complaint filed on Monday, Fitzgerald says the department did not follow due process in his firing. He says he was not given a chance to review the materials based on which he was fired, and that he was not given the opportunity for a pre-termination hearing.

The complaint also says that Fitzgerald was not a Proud Boys member at the time he attended the Tower Theatre demonstration and had quit the group six months before.

"Fitzgerald had not been member of Proud Boys since approximately November 2020. Proud Boys was not racist organization. Fitzgerald is not racist. Fitzgerald is Hispanic. Proud Boys was multi-racial organization," the complaint states.

It also says that social media pictures of Fitzgerald wearing the costume of 'The Punisher' while allegedly holding an AR-style rifle with the caption that said "(s)hit is lot easier When you can kill people," was merely him cosplaying the graphic novel character.

Fresno Mayor Jerry Dyer, police chief Paco Balderrama, and city manager Thomas Esqueda have been named in the lawsuit.

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