Police officer on administrative leave with pay
By Russell Slaton
MALAKOFF–The family of an Iowa man who died of a heart attack following a reckless driving incident with an off-duty Malakoff police officer filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the City of Malakoff, April 24.
The family alleges in documents filed in federal court in Marshall, the city used “substandard and inadequate hiring and screening policies” when it hired Ernesto Fierro, who has a checkered past as a Dallas police officer.
Records obtained through a public information request made April 23 by The Monitor and obtained June 6 show that Fierro’s Malakoff employment application included his Dallas police record, which reflected his Nov. 2005 resignation while under investigation for a violation of the department’s chase policy, and 2001 termination following Class B misdemeanor criminal accusations not specified in documents, which Fierro successfully appealed down to a 20-day suspension to continue his Dallas police employment. A police officer who resigns while under investigation usually loses his or her state peace officer’s license, but Fierro successfully appealed to state officials to keep it, The Dallas Morning News reported in 2008.
Fierro’s employment file also shows two letters of recommendation from former employers, including a Dallas Police Department (DPD) colleague and the mayor pro-tem of the City of Ferris.
“I have always found Ernesto to be very reliable, truthful, ethical and very hard-working,” wrote Armando Dominguez, Jr., a senior corporal with the DPD canine squad.
“I recommend him to you without reservation,” wrote Ferris mayor pro-tem Gary Ross.
Fierro resigned from the Ferris Police Department, July 15, 2013 and was hired by the City of Malakoff, July 31, 2013.
James Livezey’s family, through Tyler and Sulphur Springs attorneys, will ask a jury to award an unspecified amount “for each element of damages that is just and fair, based on the evidence,” according to the court filing. Also filed in federal district court was an April 28 summons to Malakoff Mayor DeLois Pagitt notifying the city of the lawsuit, which names Fierro and the city of Malakoff as defendants.
Documents obtained from the public information request also show that Fierro was placed on administrative leave with pay from the city of Malakoff on Feb. 22, “pending further investigation and completion of a criminal trial,” Malakoff Police Chief Billy Mitchell wrote in a letter sent to Fierro’s Dallas address. A Navarro County grand jury indicted Fierro Feb. 19 for aggravated assault with a deadly weapon, official oppression and reckless driving related to a Dec. 11 incident alongside Highway 31 east of Corsicana, during which the grand jury indictment alleges that Fierro ran Livezey off the road with his motorcycle, then held him in handcuffs until Navarro County deputies arrived on the Chambers Creek bottom scene. Livezey soon fell ill and collapsed, then was sent by ambulance to Navarro Regional Hospital, where he died of a heart attack.
Jury selection for Fierro’s criminal trial is set to begin July 21 in Judge James Lagomarsino’s court in Corsicana.