FRESNO, Calif. (KGPE) – A Fresno police officer with prior affiliation to the right-wing group the Proud Boys has been fired.
Tonight he’s telling his side of the story exclusively to CBS47.
Rick Fitzgerald as of today is no longer a police officer after 18 years of service to the department.
Tonight Fresno Mayor Jerry Dyer says he’s “pleased that Fitzgerald has been fired and that racism has no place in Fresno.
But Fitzgerald says he’s not a racist and was wrongfully let go as he tries to clear his name. It’s a story that made local and national headlines.
Fresno police officer Rick Fitzgerald terminated weeks after being placed on leave when images linking him to the proud boys first surfaced.
“You’re the poster boy for Fresno racism now,” Fitgerald says about his portrayal in Fresno. “I think for me, I’m just utterly disappointed in humanity.” Fitzgerald was affiliated with the Proud Boys for about a year.
“I had left them six months ago for my own reasons which no one seems to care about,” Fitzgerald said.
The questioning of his character began when he appeared at a protest outside of the Tower Theater.
“Something like this happens, and they say you did this thing, no grace, no forgiveness, no understanding, no questions, screw you and the 18 years you gave to this department,” Fitzgerald said.
Fitzgerald says no one has asked him questions until now.
We asked him directly if he is currently affiliated with the Proud Boys and he said no. We asked if he is racist, and this is his response.
“No, I don’t have a racist bone in my body. Ask anyone in my department, I’m such a ‘raging racist’ they can’t find anything in my 18 years. They can’t find anything that substantiates that.”
Tonight for the first time he’s breaking his silence saying perception about his being at the protest is all wrong.
“This is the first time I’ve talked to anyone. Everybody just sees the narrative and fills in the holes with what makes them feel warm and fuzzy. I was just enough to fulfill the narrative and then the piranhas came out and it was all attack.
Fresno Police Chief Paco Balderrama made it clear that Fitzgerald did not resign and that he was fired.
Mayor Jerry Dyer says that he won’t tolerate any racism from Fresno city employees.
Fitzgerald is disappointed in the statements coming from community leaders about his departure from the department.
“For me, it’s disappointing that there are people in certain positions, maybe they are mayor, and they want to do what they can do prop themselves up and put out statements that I’m proud he’s not with the department. And I’m thinking, you’re proud that some guy who has cared for this community for 18 years, not looking for glitz or awards, just doing it because as a police officer I know I work for the people…That’s what you got rid of today, that’s what you’re proud of. That’s a very sad statement.”
Fitzgerald is currently under investigation by the DA’s office. He welcomes the investigation and says the DA will find nothing. Fitzgerald also says there is a possibility of him taking legal action for wrongful termination.