Sheriff discusses investigation details of Madison deadly officer-involved shooting
MADISON – Madison County Sheriff Kevin Turner said an investigation by his office into a Madison officer-involved deadly shooting shows 39-year-old Dana Fletcher had a gun pointed at an officer when he was killed by police.
The findings were discussed Thursday afternoon at a press conference by the sheriff’s office as they concluded an investigation into the shooting and turned it over to the Madison County District Attorney’s office.
On Sunday, Oct. 27, Madison Police were dispatched to a suspicious person call in front of the Planet Fitness on Hwy. 72 W. in Madison. “A citizen called 911 at 4:40 p.m. saying there was a red and white van in front of Planet Fitness and the occupants of the van had been inside the gym taking pictures and asking inappropriate questions,” Madison County Sheriff Kevin Turner said. “The first officer arrived three minutes after the call was made and approached the passenger side of the van, where Dana Fletcher was sitting with the door open.”
He said Fletcher and the female in the driver’s seat (Fletcher’s wife) were uncooperative with the officer, and the officer saw Fletcher reach between the seats toward a gun. Other officers arrived a short time later and a struggle ensued with Fletcher in an attempt to get him out of the van and disarmed.
“Officers were able to safely remove the uncooperative female and an 8-year-old child from the van, but Mr. Fletcher refused,” Sheriff Turned continued. “A police K9 was used in an attempt to disarm Mr. Fletcher and another officer used a less-than-lethal taser, but they were not successful.”
At that time, Sheriff Turner said Fletcher stepped from the van, pointed the gun at an officer, and two officers fired their weapons.
Officers attempted first-aid, but Fletcher was pronounced dead at the scene. Officers recovered the firearm from his hand after the shooting. They also recovered another firearm from the back of the van. Both guns were registered and purchased by Fletcher’s wife.
“This happened in a split second,” added Chief Deputy Stacy Bates. “It went from zero to one hundred in a split second. As Fletcher was exiting the van the taser was deployed and was not effective. He was still able, as he was exiting the van, to raise the gun up. He didn’t just point it at an officer, he extended his arm out with the gun pointed directly toward the officer. That was when it turned into a deadly force situation. None of the shots were fired until he had a weapon with his arm extended at the police officer.”
Bates continued by saying that the initial responding officer did try to deescalate the situation once he saw the weapon. “The verbal commands that he is giving him, to separate him from the weapon, that’s his attempts to deescalate. They didn’t work obviously,” Bates said.
Sheriff Turned said that after other officers arrived, they gave commands for Fletcher to exit the vehicle numerous times. “He did not and it was sort of a stand off at that point. Other officers came and they engaged the van.”
As part of their normal procedure, Madison Police Department requested an outside agency, the Madison County Sheriff’s Office, to respond and investigate.
“The investigators processed all evidence at the scene, reviewed all body cam and business videos, and have interviewed all witnesses as part of the investigative process,” said Sheriff Turner.
He said the Sheriff’s Office has concluded its portion of the investigation and turned all available evidence and materials over to the District Attorney’s Office for further investigation. However, he added that there is still evidence that must be analyzed and processed by the State Department of Forensic Science.
“To protect the integrity of the investigative process, the Madison County Sheriff’s Office will not publicly release any evidence related to the case,” he said. “Nor can we.”
Sheriff Turner explained that releasing any evidence in the case is not his call to make. “That is the City of Madison’s property. They have the say-so whether they are going to release it or not,” he said. “It’s up to the Madison Police Department and City of Madison to decide what they want to do with it. It’s not our job to release their property.”
Since the shooting, calls to release the body cam footage to prove the officers’ account have increased. Madison city and police officials have remained silent on the shooting while the incident has been under investigation.
An activist from Birmingham made it clear Tuesday protests could break out in Madison and surrounding areas. Leading an activist group called Outcast Voters League, Frank Matthews is pushing for video evidence of what happened that Sunday afternoon to be released to the public.
Over the course of the past eleven days since the shooting, speculation and accusations have grown 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.
Birmingham-based attorney Benjamin Crump said has been retained by Fletcher’s family. He has said that Fletcher’s wife is absolutely “certain” her husband was unarmed when he was confronted by police.
“I have seen the video. Whether you want to believe or you don’t there was a weapon involved,” Sheriff Turner said at a meeting Monday hosted by the local NAACP about the investigation. “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.”
In relation to the threat of protests, Chief Deputy Bates said, “We ask people not to do that. We ask people to be patient, and most everyone has been patient with us,” he said. “We are above-board on everything. we have put out all we can put out. I know there are people who have made contrary statements to what we are saying. Really at this point and time, all we can say is you have to trust us.”
“We are confident the community trusts us, they trust our findings and the process that we have,” Bates continued. “We just ask that they continue doing that.”
He also spoke to Matthews efforts in relation to the shooting. “Any outside forces, from outside Madison County, please do the same thing,” Bates said. “Respect the citizens of Madison County, respect what they want, respect the process and the elected officials the people put in place and cooperate with us.”