HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (WAFF) - Thursday afternoon, the Madison County sheriff announced an investigation into an officer involved shooting in Madison was complete.
A press release from the sheriff says investigator’s findings will be delivered to the Madison County district attorney’s office.
The sheriff’s office was asked to investigate after Madison Police Officers shot and killed 39-year-old Dana Fletcher outside of Planet Fitness on Highway 72 in Madison. According to the sheriff’s office, a third-party investigation into an officer involved shooting is routine procedure.
The release says that on Oct. 27, a citizen called 911 saying a red and white van was in the Planet Fitness parking lot occupied by two people who had been taking pictures and asking inappropriate questions. Madison County Sheriff Kevin Turner says he is unaware of the specific questions that were being asked at Planet Fitness.
According to the release, three minutes later, an officer arrived on scene. The officer approached the passenger side of the van and made contact with Fletcher.
The sheriff’s office says Fletcher and a woman in the driver’s seat of the van would not cooperate with the responding officer. The sheriff says the officer saw Fletcher reach for a firearm. Others then arrived and a struggle began says the sheriff’s release. Officers were able to remove the woman and a child from the van but Mr. Fletcher refused according to the sheriff. WAFF 48 News has previously reported that woman was Fletcher’s wife, and that their child was also present.
A police K-9 and taser were used against Mr. Fletcher, but the sheriff says those attempts to disarm him were unsuccessful. The sheriff says Fletcher then stepped out of the van and pointed a gun at a Madison Police Officer. That’s when two Madison Officers opened fire according to the press release.
Sheriff’s Office spokesman Chief Deputy Stacy Bates said the shooting took place quickly.
“This happened in a split second. This went from 0 to 100 in a split second... As Mr. Fletcher was exiting the van, a taser was deployed. As a said in my previous news release, it was not effective. He was still able, as he’s exiting his van to raise the gun up. He didn’t just point at an officer, he extended his arm out with the gun pointed directly toward the officer," he said.
"That’s when it turned to a deadly force situation. None of the shots were fired until he had the weapon fully pointed and his arm extended at the police officer.”
Officers attempted first-aid but Dana Fletcher died at the scene.
The sheriff’s office release says all appropriate available evidence has been reviewed, including body-camera video, and will be forwarded to the Madison County district attorney. The DA will also receive additional evidence from the State Forensics Department when it becomes available.
The sheriff says at this time, no evidence will be released to the public. Turner said, “we cannot release evidence to a case to the public, nor can we release the evidence or the video involved in this case, that is the city of Madison’s property.” Turner said the Madison Police Department will ultimately have to decide on whether or not to release the video.
The sheriff also held a press conference to discuss the findings. During that press conference he said that Mr. Fletcher had a second firearm in the van. According to the sheriff that gun and the gun Fletcher was holding when he was killed were both registered to the female driver, his wife.
The information released by the sheriff’s office Thursday is consistent with information released the day after the shooting. However, Fletcher’s wife disputes that her husband was armed. So does Benjamin Crump, who has been retained by the family as an attorney.
Activists have pushed for the public release of the body-camera footage. So far that hasn’t happened. Those activists are planning a press conference to respond to the release from the sheriff’s office.
Chief Deputy Stacy Bates asked the community to remain calm amidst talk of protests.
“We ask people not to do that. We ask people to be patient. Most everyone has been patient with us. We’re above board on everything. We’ve put out all we can put out. I know there’s people out there that have put contrary statements to what we’re saying. Really at this point all we can say is you got to trust us. You got to believe us, and you got to make a decision,” he said.
Madison County District Attorney Robert Broussard will now decided whether or not a crime was potentially committed by Madison Police.
He said, “As we do in any case of this nature, we wait until we have all the evidence. Once we have all the evidence, we will give it a full review on whether it was justified or not. If we think there is probable cause that there is a crime, we will put it in front of a grand jury. If not, it would be unethical to do so.”
The city of Madison issued the following statement in response to Thursday’s announcement:
“The City of Madison would like to thank the Madison County Sheriff’s Office for their tireless work in conducting a thorough investigation of the events on October 27th. The City will await the results of the Madison County District Attorney’s review and stands ready to support them with any additional information they may need. Once the District Attorney has concluded its review, the City will provide a statement to our community."