FRESNO, California. (KSEE/KGPE) – A former Fresno Police officer who was fired due to his prior ties to the Proud Boys is now suing the City of Fresno.
Rick Fitzgerald was fired for alleged misconduct in April after photos and videos circulated on social media that allegedly showed him participating in counter-protests at Fresno’s Tower Theatre with members of the Proud Boys while off-duty.
In a complaint filed earlier this week, Fitzgerald alleges that the department fired him without any pre-removal procedural due process, and didn’t let him review all materials on which his termination was based. Fitzgerald added the department didn’t allow him to have a pre-termination hearing to respond to the charges of misconduct against him.
The complaint also states Fitzgerald was not affiliated with the Proud Boys at the time of the protest outside the Tower Theatre and was attending on his own behalf to watch the interaction between protestors and counter-protestors. Fitzgerald says he ‘exercised his constitutional right of association’ by joining the Fresno Chapter of the Proud Boys in 2020, but had left the group six months prior to the protest.
The lawsuit also names Mayor Jerry Dyer, Fresno Police Chief Paco Balderrama, and city manager Thomas Esqueda.