Fort Worth Police Sergeant Fired

One of the issues that I have talked about from time to time is the Texas law on when a person must identify themselves to the police. In the Texas Penal Code, it is covered under Failure to Identify,† a criminal offense. Police invariably believe that this means that they have the right to identify anyone that they want, and to arrest when the person refuses to identify themselves. In August, Fort Worth Police Sergeant Kenneth Pierce ordered an officer to taze Dorshay Morris, who had called police about a domestic disturbance. On Monday, December 18, 2017, Pierce was fired. The video from the incident is telling.

First, the officers respond to the apartment and arrest the male half of the domestic disturbance.‡ Then a female officer, M. Bayona, demands to see the child in the apartment, and Morris complies. When Bayona demands to see the woman’s ID is really where the problem starts. Morris is hesitant, so the sergeant jumps in, and when Pierce asks for her ID (at 7:09), Morris correctly states that she doesn’t have to give the officers anything.

And then Pierce tells her to either hand the female officer the ID or she’s going to jail. For what? Not providing her ID? She doesn’t have to, because the law is very clear on the issue. She only has to provide ID if she has been lawfully arrested, and she wasn’t lawfully arrested at that point. Then, as the officers are struggling with Morris, Pierce tells the female officer to taze Morris, at which point she is subdued and arrested.

Another point of concern that I have is what the female officer tells the cousin of Morris, that the woman started “getting aggressive” (at 12:08)—huh? Morris in no ways was aggressive, she merely didn’t comply with an order that she did not have to comply with. That’s no where close to “getting aggressive.”

In any event, Pierce was fired by Chief Joel Fitzgerald because Pierce, according to the Internal Affairs investigation, had “no basis for the initial arrest; therefore, any force used to apply handcuffs was unreasonable.” Chief Fitzgerald said that Pierce “initiated an unnecessary physical confrontation” and that he was terminating him for neglect of duty, failure to supervise and violating the department’s use-of-force policy.

The Fort Worth Police Officer’s Association♠ disagrees, and their attorney, Terry Daffron, said that Pierce would be appealing the decision. That’s what they are supposed to do, and I’m sure they will do a good job, but in this case, Chief Fitzgerald is right. According to the Star-Telegram, the police reports do not match what is seen in the video.

Morris was charged with Aggravated Assault and Resisting Arrest, both charges were later dropped.

Bayona remains under investigation.


§38.02, Texas Penal Code.

‡One interesting point I noted is that the female officer put on latex gloves well before they even got to the apartment. To me, that indicates an intention to go “hands on” with a subject, otherwise, why the gloves?

♠The FWPOA is a member of CLEAT, the largest police officer union/association in Texas. As disclosure, while I was an officer, I was a CLEAT member.

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4 thoughts on “Fort Worth Police Sergeant Fired

  1. I think this was a good call. I talked to a former Texas LEO about how many officers seem to fail to grasp the ID law. He said they teach it in the academy now, but officers view any lack of cooperation as aggressiveness. I pointed out it is easy to let cops go in Fort Worth, now that the department is over staffed. It should be a message to the rest of them.

    Happy Holidays Greg

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    1. Part of the problem is that the older officers remember when everyone had to provide ID, pre-Brown. They think they should still be able to demand ID. And Merry Christmas to you and yours.

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      1. Would it be true to say that even if you are required to ID yourself, you don’t have to provide a government issued ID unless you are operating a motor vehicle, carrying a handgun, or hunting/fishing(excluding situations where ID is required for entry to some building)? Can’t ID consist of giving your name, address, and date of birth verbally? It’s beyond annoying that police officers don’ understand this.

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        1. For the purpose of the Failure to ID law, all you have to do is provide your name, date of birth, and residence address. Nothing requires that it be in the form of a government issued ID card or license.

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