FRESNO, Calif. (KSEE)- It was announced Friday morning Officer Rick Fitzgerald will no longer be a part of the Fresno Police Department. The news comes after the department launched an internal investigation nearly a month ago into allegations Fitzgerald had ties to the proud boys.
The day he was fired, Fitzgerald broke his silence, defending his past that cost him his job.
“You’re the poster boy for Fresno racism now and I think for me, I’m just utterly disappointed in humanity,” explained Fitzgerald.
Fitzgerald, a 17 year veteran of the Fresno PD says he was part of the Proud Boys for about a year and left them 6 months ago. He says he doesn’t understand why the police department took this action.
“Something like this happens, and they say you did this thing, no grace, no forgiveness, no understanding, no questions, ‘screw you, the 18 years you gave to this department,'” Fitzgerald said.
Fresno Mayor Jerry Dyer praised the police department’s swift removal of Fitzgerald.
“The fact that he was involved and engaged with an organization that is associated with hate is something we cannot tolerate,” Dyer said.
When announcing Fitzgerald’s termination Fresno police chief Paco Balderrama released a statement on his action. Part of the statement can be viewed below.
“I stand by and reassert my prior comments in strongly disapproving of any police officer affiliating with hate groups, or any group known for engaging in violent criminal behavior. Such ideology, behavior, and affiliations have no place in law enforcement and will not be tolerated.“
Mayor Dyer says the line has to be drawn in officers’ personal lives.
“Police officers do have a freedom of speech,” the mayor said. “However there are times when it crosses a line. And when it does cross a line, it’s important to take immediate action.”
The full interview with Rick Fitzgerald can be viewed here.