News for North Texas
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Fort Worth approves $150,000 police misconduct settlement

A Fort Worth Police car is parked outside next to a curb.
Camilo Diaz
Fort Worth Report
A police car parked outside of the Bob Bolen Public Safety Complex.

Fort Worth City Council approved a $150,000 settlement to dismiss a police misconduct lawsuit filed against the city and one of its former police officers. No council members commented on the settlement before voting to approve it.

The lawsuit stemmed from the actions of former Fort Worth police officer Mitchell Miller following his arrest of Tawayne Holloway for public intoxication Jan. 28, 2022. A handcuffed Holloway turned toward Miller while being led into the city’s jail, at which point the officer pushed him face-first onto a concrete floor. Holloway lost consciousness and was transported to John Peter Smith Hospital. Subsequently, Miller was fired by the department for excessive use of force, and the police department released footage of the incident.

“His continued failure to adhere to the high standards that every Fort Worth police officer is expected to maintain during all interactions with members of the public necessitated the chief’s decision to terminate Officer Miller’s employment,” the department said in a news release announcing Miller’s firing in 2022.

Holloway filed a lawsuit against both the city and Miller in the summer of 2023. The suit alleged that Holloway’s constitutional rights were violated, both by Miller’s actions and by city policies that enabled them. It referenced a third-party report on the department’s policies and practices from 2022, which found a pattern of unnecessary use of force among officers.

Dean Malone, an attorney representing Holloway, said he’s glad they were ultimately able to reach a settlement, but he is confident their arguments about the department’s culture and practices would have held up in a trial setting.

“He was handcuffed. He was intoxicated. He was under control. He’s being led into the facility by two officers — there was absolutely no reason at all to throw him facedown on the ground and knock him out,” Malone said.

Despite the settlement, Malone said he hasn’t seen institutional change necessary to ensure incidents like what happened to Holloway don’t repeat themselves.

“It’s a bit difficult, I think, to have change within a city when the city will not even recognize there’s a problem,” he said. “Our hope is that going forward, there will be a change in the culture, which is what it’s going to take.”

2022 wasn’t the first time the department fired Miller. The former officer was fired by then-police chief Joel Fitzgerald in 2019, after Christopher Lowe, 55, died in the back of a Fort Worth police cruiser in 2018. Miller was one of five officers Lowe told he couldn’t breathe. In response, officers discussed how to drop him off at a hospital for a mental evaluation without telling hospital staff that they thought he was under the influence of narcotics.

Instead of immediately transporting Lowe to the hospital, the officers involved assumed Lowe was lying in an attempt to get out of jail and delayed, according to court documents. He died before arriving at the hospital. The city ultimately paid $75,000 to settle a lawsuit that resulted from the incident.

Miller appealed his termination and was reinstated in 2020. Fort Worth police officers subject to disciplinary action may appeal to a third-party hearing examiner to have the discipline dismissed or modified; in Miller’s case, he reached a settlement with the city where his discipline was changed from termination to a 15-day suspension, according to hearing examination documents obtained by the Fort Worth Report. He was required to complete remedial training, including with a use of force coordinator.

Miller also appealed the 2022 termination stemming from his interaction with Holloway. In a February 2023 public hearing, Miller’s defense argued the officer’s muscle memory and training had kicked in, and it wasn’t appropriate to judge his actions with the benefit of hindsight and replayable camera footage.

“Use of force events are not pretty,” Terry Daffron, an attorney with the Combined Law Enforcement Associations of Texas, said in the hearing. “They can be difficult to watch. But at times they are necessary to protect officers and to ensure their safety.”

Miller’s second appeal was unsuccessful. Dianna Giordano, the city’s human resources director, said in a statement that his termination was found to be reasonable under the circumstances.

Emily Wolf is a local government accountability reporter for the Fort Worth Report. She grew up in Round Rock, Texas, and graduated from the University of Missouri-Columbia with a degree in investigative journalism. Reach her at for more stories by Emily Wolf click here.