Federal assault, excessive force trial begins for Stevenson police chief

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Daniel Winters (Photo: Alabama Association of Chiefs of Police website)

HUNTSVILLE, Ala. —  Jury selection began Monday morning in the federal assault and excessive force case against Stevenson Police Chief Daniel Winters.

Winters is charged in connection with the alleged beating of David Fulmer in March 2015.

A jury was seated late Monday afternoon and the prosecution and defense offered opening statements.

The federal government alleges that Winters and another man, Robert “Bobby” Hicks, a Stevenson funeral home owner, went to a rental property owned by Hicks that day and confronted Fulmer.

Hicks had reported items, including a grandfather clock, were stolen from his funeral home. They recognized items taken from the funeral home, according to federal prosecutors.

The charges stem from the alleged encounter.

The government alleges Hicks and Winters beat Fulmer, both inside his house and outside. The charges against Winters include both his alleged participation in the beating and that he let a suspect be attacked and did nothing about it.

The defense contends that the men went to the house and after the door was opened, Winters saw a grandfather clock reportedly stolen from the funeral home. Defense attorney Robert Ray told jurors that Winters yelled to Hicks about the clock as he walked inside. Hicks came to the door, the defense says, and Fulmer began running towards him with his hand held high, carrying something. Hicks punched him, the defense said. Fulmer went down and then got up and scrambled outside. Ray told jurors the police chief didn’t have a gun, handcuffs or a taser on him to help subdue Fulmer.

Passers-by called 911 reporting they saw two men beating a man on the ground, prosecutors told the jury.

Jury selection began this morning before U.S. District Judge Madeline Hughes Haikala.

The pool of about 37 jurors answered questions from the prosecution and defense.

The judge then asked if any would-be jurors would be influenced by the widely publicized shootings involving police in Louisiana and Minnesota and the attack on officers in Dallas. No one in the jury pool said those events changed their thinking or caused them to think it is inappropriate to review the conduct of police officers.

Testimony will begin Tuesday.

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