Investigation into officer-involved shooting could be concluded this week says sheriff at tense town hall meeting
“I have seen the video. Whether you want to believe or you don’t there was a weapon involved,” Madison County Sheriff Kevin Turner told a passionate crowd gathered at the Dr. Richard Showers Center in Huntsville Monday night.
Sheriff Turner was answering accusations that the sheriff’s department has not been truthful in saying 39-year-old Dana Fletcher had a gun when he was shot and killed by Madison Police officers on Oct. 27.
“I am telling you as the sheriff of this county, on my job and on my word, there was a weapon involved, pointing at the officers,” he said over the shouts of frustration from those in attendance.
The tense meeting was organized by the Huntsville/Madison County NAACP to shed light into the process of the justice system in the wake of last week’s shooting. Sheriff Turner and Madison County District Attorney Rob Broussard attended to provide information about their investigative process and answer questions.
The Madison County Sheriff’s Department was asked to handle the investigation since Madison officers were involved.
“We want to get a general understanding as to the investigation process, the use of deadly force, and what should the public expect from law enforcement,” local NAACP president Jerry Burnet said prior to Monday’s town hall meeting. However, it quickly became contentious with Burnet repeatedly asked those in attendance to keep order and stay calm.
Over the course of last week, speculation and accusations grew against the police and the sheriff’s department account of what happened. That was fueled by Fletcher’s wife posting on Facebook that her husband was unarmed, and as the sheriff’s department has rebuffed calls to make video evidence from the shooting public.
“I realize there is frustration from among the public about wanting more transparency, saying ‘we want the body cams.’ That would be great, but let me tell you something, the public is not entitled to that evidence at this time,” Broussard told the crowd.
“Why would you come here and not have something to give us so we can understand where you are coming from?” a man at the meeting asked in return. “We want to see what you see,” another person said.
“I understand that feeling,” Boussard said in response. “If you look at the laws and constitutional rights of those involved, it’s not tried in the media. There is something called due process. Folks may not like it, they want to know right now, but it has to run through the system. I don’t care if it’s an officer involved or not. We are not turning over evidence to the public at this time.”
Sheriff Turner said what happened between Fletcher and the Madison Police will come out when his office presents the case to the district attorney’s office. He said the investigation will likely be concluded by the end of the week, maybe mid-week. “The investigation will show what happened,” he said.
According to authorities, Fletcher was killed by Madison Police officers on Sunday, Oct. 27, at Planet Fitness on Highway 72 in Madison.
“Around 4:30 p.m., a citizen called police saying that Fletcher and a female were inside the business videoing people and asking personal questions,” said Madison County Chief Deputy Stacy Bates. “Madison Police responded and made contact with Fletcher, the female, and a child in a van outside the business. Fletcher and the female were uncooperative with officers and there was a gun in the car.”
He said a struggle ensued and officers were able to get the uncooperative female and child out of the car safely.
Officers were still struggling with Fletcher and used a less-than-lethal taser in an attempt to get him under control and disarmed.
“The less-than-lethal was not effective and the struggling Fletcher exited the car with the gun in his hand and pointed at officers,” Bates said. “Two Madison police officers fired their weapons and Fletcher was struck. The officers attempted first-aid on Fletcher, but he was pronounced dead at the scene.”
Five Madison Police officers involved were placed on administrative leave per department policy.
Bates has said there is video from the business that shows Fletcher armed with a handgun and investigators did recover a 9mm handgun at the scene.
Since the shooting, there has been calls for the sheriff’s department or the Madison Police to release any video evidence they have to the public to prove their account of events.