Keller residents who spoke during the meeting shared concerns that the city's response to an Aug. 15 incident of alleged police misconduct was not adequate.
With a goal of community partnership, Fortune said he would hold town hall meetings on Jan. 11 and Jan. 21 to discuss solutions to rebuild trust between the police and the people of Keller.
The city's response is the result of the August arrest of Marco Puente, which ultimately led to a lawsuit against the city and two officers involved in the incident, Blake Shimanek and Ankit Tomer. Mizani and Fortune both stressed the need for more training, additional resources and accountability to prevent potential police misconduct in the future.
“Although we have every right to be angry and upset, let’s not forget that for good change to happen, that anger must be met with action,” Mizani said.
Mizani, who was officially sworn in Dec. 17, said he released the body cam and dash cam footage to the public the same day he was briefed on the August incident. A special executive session was also called to address the issue with City Council members, he said.
Preparing for increased turnout Tuesday night, city officials installed barriers for crowd control at the entrance to town hall and the City Council chambers. Occupancy in the chamber was limited to 60 people due to COVID-19 concerns, as those in attendance spilled into overflow seating. Friends of the Puente family and other supporters held signs reading, “We hope you do the right thing," among other messages.
Some residents expressed support for the Keller Police Department, while others told personal stories of mistreatment by officers. Overwhelmingly, residents asked that the city and the police department further discipline the officers involved and institute more accountability in general.
“Seeing officers act this way, knowingly being recorded, worries me,” Keller resident Hannah Bland said. “It makes me question what they would be OK with doing off-camera.”
Fortune, who was appointed chief of police in March 2020, said the ongoing lawsuit prevents him from commenting on the arrest but explained his decision-making process after he was informed of the incident.
Puente was arrested after his son, Dillon Puente, was pulled over by Shimanek, who was then a sergeant, for making a wide right turn. Marco Puente arrived, and body cam and dash cam footage shows that Shimanek put the father in a headlock and pepper-sprayed him.
Fortune said the department had already taken steps to arrange for Marco Puente’s release when he was informed of the arrest. Fortune contacted the district attorney to have the charges against Marco Puente dismissed and fees reimbursed, and he met with Marco Puente to personally apologize, he said.
The Keller Police Department then launched an internal investigation into the incident, with citizen input from the Chief’s Advisory Council. Fortune said he demoted Shimanek from sergeant to patrol officer and temporarily removed him from standard patrol duty after consulting with Dallas-Fort Worth area police executives.
Tomer’s actions did not warrant discipline, Fortune said.