Christopher Connelly | KERA News

Christopher Connelly

One Crisis Away Reporter

Christopher Connelly is KERA's One Crisis Away Reporter, exploring life on the financial edge. Based in Fort Worth, he also covers stories of general interest in Tarrant County, specializing in politics and criminal justice. His reporting is regularly picked up by national shows including Morning Edition, All Things Considered and Marketplace.

Chris led KERA’s coverage of the 2018 midterm elections, filing frequently for national outlets. He’s also covered criminal justice policy in the Texas Legislature and at the local level, from the election of Dallas District Attorney John Creuzot to the way prosecutors navigate shifting marijuana policy and address wrongful convictions.

Breaking news is a big part of any reporter’s job, and Chris has been an essential part of the station’s coverage of major stories, such as the killings of Atatiana Jefferson in Fort Worth and Botham Jean in Dallas by police officers. Beyond the daily updates to major news stories, Chris focuses on ways to address deeper issues that stand out in the major national stories, like whether a cop is really ever off duty in the eyes of the law.

The Public Media Journalists Association awarded Chris two national honors in 2019 for his reporting – in the Use of Sound and Breaking News categories – and the Texas Associated Press Broadcasters gave his story about a sexual misconduct scandal in the Southern Baptist Convention a Best General Assignment award.

In  2018, the Headliners Foundation of Texas named Christopher the best radio reporter in the state for providing “calm, comprehensive journalism” and “unbiased reporting on controversial issues.” The Texas AP Broadcasters awarded best serious feature to his audio postcard from tiny Moran, Texas, where bump stocks like the one used by the Las Vegas shooter were created and manufactured.

In 2017, a story about a reclusive state Board of Education candidate in East Texas who’d called then-President Obama a gay prostitute earned him a Lone Star Award from the Houston Press Club, and his coverage of policing after five Dallas officers were gunned down on July 7, 2016 was key to KERA winning “overall excellence” honors in the regional Edward R. Murrow Awards.

Before moving to Texas, Chris was state legislative reporter for WYPR in Baltimore and spent a year training at NPR as a Joan B. Kroc Fellow. He earned a bachelor’s degree in gender studies from Antioch College in Yellow Springs, Ohio, and a master’s degree in journalism at the University of California-Berkeley. His thesis was a radio documentary about heroin addicts getting sober in Zanzibar.

Ways to Connect

Christopher Connelly / KERA News

Fort Worth's City Manager David Cooke has named an outside panel of experts to review the Fort Worth Police Department's policies and practices. Now, it's up to the city council to approve hiring the eight police reform specialists.

Fort Worth's diversity and inclusion officer candidates
Christopher Connelly / KERA News

The City of Fort Worth is looking to hire a Diversity and Inclusion Director, and it moved one step forward in the process this week. Six finalists got a chance to pitch themselves to residents Monday, and the forum exposed tensions and mistrust that the winning candidate will face.

Atatiana Jefferson, the 28-year-old woman shot to death by a police officer in her own home, was remembered on Thursday by family and friends as a loving aunt who overcame difficult circumstances to become the first in her family to graduate from college and had her eyes set on becoming a doctor one day.

Atatiana Jefferson's funeral
Christopher Connelly / KERA News

A few hundred mourners gathered at Concord Church in Dallas Thursday to mark the life and death of Atatiana Jefferson. It was a funeral focused on the life that she lived, and a call to action for systemic change.

Tarrant County District Attorney Sharen Wilson
Christopher Connelly / KERA News

The case against the former Fort Worth police officer who shot and killed a woman in her home is now in the hands of the Tarrant County District Attorney. District Attorney Sharen Wilson says her office will prosecute ex-cop Aaron Dean to the fullest extent of the law in the killing of Atatiana Jefferson.

Steven Martin via flickr

Community activists in Fort Worth have issued a list of demands to the city’s leadership in the wake of Atatiana Jefferson’s killing in her home by a Fort Worth police officer. City officials responded Friday by saying some of the demands aren’t possible and others aren’t practical, but on some others, they're open to a conversation.

Associated Press

When James Smith called a non-emergency number early Saturday morning, he was worried. He wanted to make sure his neighbor, Atatiana Jefferson, was OK.

Christopher Connelly / KERA News

Community members gathered in Fort Worth Sunday night to protest the shooting death of Atatiana Jefferson by a Fort Worth police officer. A white officer fatally shot Jefferson, a black woman, in her home early Saturday morning.

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The uneasy relationship between Dallas’ police force and some of its residents was on display this week, and a talk Thursday at the Dallas Holocaust Museum sought to make sense of recent events.  

Christopher Connelly / KERA News

Medical school is draining. It’s a mix of sleepless nights spent studying, a lot of student debt, massive pressure to succeed, and learning to treat difficult patients over long hours at the hospital. This recipe for mastering medicine been used to train generations of physicians, but it appears to bake in a problem: Over the course of their studies, medical students tend to become less empathetic over the course of their training.

Christopher Connelly / KERA News

The Fort Worth City Council approved a nearly $1.8 billion dollar budget last night for the next fiscal year.

The fast-growing city of nearly 900,000 earmarked cash to open two new libraries, a new fire station, a new animal shelter and new parks. New police officers, firefighters and code enforcement agents will be hired.

Christopher Connelly / KERA News

Nearly $1.8 billion. That’s what Fort Worth’s city leaders say it’ll cost to take care of the fast-growing city’s needs over the next fiscal year.

The Fort Worth City Council will vote Tuesday on the proposed budget, which includes a cut to the city property tax rate, increased fees for city services, more transportation and infrastructure funding and a new office for police oversight.

Christopher Connelly / KERA News

It was the kind of tragedy that could have destroyed a church. But nearly 20 years after a man opened fire in Fort Worth's Wedgwood Baptist Church, killing seven and wounding seven more before he turned his gun on himself, the congregation is stronger than ever.

The Plano Senior High Wildcats played the Eastwood High Troopers in Frisco Thursday night, but it was anything but a normal game. It was a night filled with symbolic acts of unity.

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Just days after Texas was rocked by a second mass shooting in a month, Democratic candidates for the U.S. Senate talked gun policy at a forum in Frisco. It’s the first forum of the election season in the contest to pick the person who will challenge Republican Sen. John Cornyn next year.

Shutterstock

Earlier this summer, Tarrant County District Attorney Sharen Wilson did something unusual for an elected prosecutor. She dropped the charges in 234 cases all at once.

Christopher Connelly / KERA News

A massive relocation project is underway in Fort Worth. The city's housing authority is in the process of moving the more than 700 residents of the Cavile Place apartments — a 65-year-old housing project in the neighborhood of Stop Six.

Christopher Connelly / KERA News

Fort Worth's anti-discrimination board Monday night passed a resolution calling for one of its members, Mike Steele, to be removed. Steele has drawn broad criticism for inflammatory social media posts that target immigrants, Muslims, LGBT people and the political left.

Wild0ne via creative commons

This week, the Tarrant County District Attorney’s office dismissed about 235 misdemeanor marijuana possession cases. It was an unusual move, and a response to changes in state law earlier this month.

Christopher Connelly / KERA News

Red light cameras have been going dark across Texas this month. State lawmakers passed legislation to ban the automated cameras, which snap a picture of vehicle license plates when vehicles enter intersections after the traffic light turns red. The red light system then automatically mails a $75 ticket.

Christopher Connelly / KERA News

Tarrant County will continue a controversial federal program that taps local sheriff’s deputies to help enforce federal immigration laws.

Aaron Jacobs / distributed under Creative Commons BY-SA 2.5 license

Denton County voters may find themselves voting in new districts for members of the county commissioners court next year. The Denton County Commissioners Court is planning to redraw their districts this summer. Commissioners say it’s an effort to make sure their precincts are equal in this fast-growing county, but critics of the plan says it’s being rushed unnecessarily and will have a discriminatory effect.

Christopher Connelly / KERA News

The emergency room at Tarrant County’s public hospital faced its own emergency last week. Patients swamped John Peter Smith hospital’s emergency department in Fort Worth following the Memorial Day holiday.

Christopher Connelly / KERA News

With the ouster of Fort Worth Police Chief Joel Fitzgerald last week, attention is turning to what the city should look for in its next police chief.

Christopher Connelly / KERA News

Deputy Chief Ed Kraus was sworn in as Fort Worth's new interim police chief Tuesday. He’ll lead the department until a replacement can be found for outgoing Chief Joel Fitzgerald, who was fired by city hall last week.

Lauren Johnson speaks at a rally for legislation to address the issues affecting women in the criminal justice system.
Christopher Connelly / KERA News

Texas incarcerates more women than any other state. The number of women in Texas prisons has ballooned since 1980, growing by nearly 1,000% – twice the rate of men. 

A TEXRail train waits at Fort Worth's T & P Station.
Christopher Connelly / KERA News

TEXRail got off to a bit of a rocky start, delayed by the federal government shutdown. But four months after the train began running between central Fort Worth and Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport, riders say they’re happy with the service.

Texas State Capitol
Christopher Connelly / KERA News

Four years after Sandra Bland died in a Waller County jail, her name is still reverberating in the Texas legislature.

For the eight-and-a-half years she spent in prison, Kristan Kerr looked forward to one thing every month: a visit from her daughter, Chloe. Visit by visit, she watched Chloe grow from a toddler to nearly a teenager.

"I just watched her grow all the way up," Kerr says. "One visit, she couldn't read, and then the next visit she was reading something to me."

Convicted for aggravated robbery in 2011 – she was the driver — Kerr says she wasn't making good choices back then, and it meant missing out on a lot.

Christopher Connelly / KERA News

Fort Worth Mayor Betsy Price has won a fifth term in office and is on her way to becoming the longest-serving mayor in city history. 

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