Fresno police officer accused of being affiliated with 'Proud Boys'

A Fresno police officer is under investigation after allegations of his involvement with the far-right extremist group the Proud Boys.
FRESNO, Calif. -- A Fresno police officer is under investigation after allegations of his involvement with the far-right extremist group the Proud Boys.

Multiple sources have identified the officer in question as Rick Fitzgerald.

In a statement, Police Chief Paco Balderrama said in part, "Although at this point these are merely allegations and the matter will be fully investigated, it is important to maintain the integrity and legitimacy of our police department."

"What we would like to see is real action," said longtime community organizer Stacy Williams. "We don't want to see lip service."

Williams said the officer has been spotted at rallies with members of the Proud Boys.

"There are some identifying marks, his tattoos, and they have shown him in his Fresno Police Department uniform, and they have also shown him today at the protest and other protests in Sacramento," she said.

Williams is referring to a Save the Tower Theatre demonstration that took place in the Tower District Sunday morning.

Tensions have flared over the sale of the theatre to Adventure Church.

After the police department announced its internal affairs investigation, Mayor Jerry Dyer also made a statement, saying, "As the mayor of this city, I will not tolerate any City of Fresno employee belonging to organizations that promote views of supremacy, racism or criminal conduct."

But Williams is pushing for more than a statement.

"There should be an overall investigation into the police department," she said. "There needs to be some grand jury investigation outside into the officers, the culture and the department as a general."

In 2010, Fitzgerald and seven other Fresno police officers were involved in a deadly shooting in Tower District.

A spokesman with the police department confirms the officer being investigated is on paid administrative leave. Their peace officer power has also been suspended pending completion of the investigation.

The Fresno Police Officers Association released the following statement on Monday.

"The FPOA is aware of the allegations launched through social media against a Fresno police officer. The allegations are very troubling and are undoubtedly of great concern to the police department, the FPOA, and the community as a whole. We are also aware of both Chief Balderama's press release and Mayor Dyer's public statement made in response to these allegations.

The FPOA fully supports the Chief in his decision to initiate a thorough and objective investigation into this matter. The investigation should be based on facts and evidence, free of political influences, purposed for discovering the validity to the allegations at hand.

The FPOA also echoes the sentiments of Mayor Dyer, recognizing that racism, discrimination, and criminal conduct among our ranks is absolutely intolerable. The FPOA respects the constitutional rights of all persons and opposes any group or individual that would use violence or other illegal means to suppress the rights of others.

It would be inappropriate to speculate about the allegations and any investigation regarding this matter. Safeguarding the integrity of such an important and sensitive investigation is of the utmost importance. To that end, the FPOA will not be issuing additional statements or offering comment. All inquiries should be directed to the Fresno Police Department."
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