MADISON, Ala. – On the same day the City of Madison says an Incident Review Board cleared the officers involved in the shooting death of Dana Fletcher, his family appeals to the state’s top law enforcement official.
Monday night, WHNT News 19 was sent a letter signed by members of 39-year-old Dana Sherrod Fletcher’s family, including his wife, addressed to Alabama Attorney General Steve Marshall, asking him to take a look at the case.
The full text of the letter can be read here: Fletcher Family’s Letter to Attorney General
“It is in everyone’s interest for the facts to be determined by a process that is fair and free from bias or influence,” the letter states. “Consequently, we request that you, as the top law enforcement official in the State, conduct a review of the case to preserve the semblance of fairness in the legal system in Alabama.”
The letter details the series of events of the fatal encounter that took place outside the Planet Fitness on Highway 72 in Madison on October 27. Madison Police say they responded to a report of a suspicious person, and encountered Fletcher, his wife, and child in a van in a parking lot. Police say Fletcher was uncooperative and was armed. After an altercation, Fletcher was fatally shot outside the van.
From the onset of the investigation, Fletcher’s family rejected officials’ account of the incident.
The family’s letter claims there were “irregularities in local authorities’ findings,” specifically focusing on the gun police say Fletcher pointed at officers before they opened fire.
“After making one or more factually inaccurate findings in an apparent effort to support the [Madison Police Department]’s initial story, the [Madison County Sheriff’s Office] later backtracked on some findings, like the type of gun allegedly recovered from Mr. Fletcher’s possession, and ultimately identified an entirely different weapon by the end of its 3-week investigation,” the letter states.
It also raises questions about possible family relationships between city officials and Madison County investigators. The letter says the MCSO’s lead investigator on this case shares the same last name as Madison Mayor Paul Finley and questions if they are related. A representative from the Madison County Sheriff’s Office tells WHNT News 19 they employ an Investigator Finley and they are not related to Mayor Paul Finley.
Questions are also raised about District Attorney Rob Broussard and statements he’s made in the past. The letter says, “those statements may be interpreted as providing blanket exoneration of police interacting with people of color.”
It quotes an interview Broussard gave to WHNT News 19 in 2017. The story was about a black man charged with robbery after mistakenly being identified as the suspect in surveillance video. Broussard denied racial prejudice in the system, after a question on mass incarceration.
“Why don’t you call it what it is which is ‘mass criminality. Why don’t you call it that? Because law enforcement on the street has better things to do than to target a group of people. Instead, they respond to criminal activity,” he said during the 2017 interview.
Broussard, the MCSO, as well as the Incident Review Board came to the same conclusion: that the officers involved acted within their training and policy. The officers have returned to full duty without restrictions, and have not been publicly identified.
The Fletchers’ attorney Benjamin Crump, and members of the community, demanded the release of the body camera footage. Previously, the city of Madison stated the body camera video would not be released because attorneys for Fletcher’s family have publicly said they intend to sue over the shooting.
The letter sent Monday says investigators’ findings “conflict in some way with bystander video footage that has been posted online.”
In reference to a news conference the DA’s office held at the end of their investigation, the letter points out that the DA released “select photographs apparently taken from body cams and parking lot surveillance cameras that, after 3 weeks in police control, purported to show Mr. Fletcher holding a gun. The DA did not show any source video footage of Mr. Fletcher having possession of a gun.”
“These and other factors give rise to a reasonable perception that both the DA’s office and the [MCSO] have a conflict that precludes them from conducting a fair and neutral investigation of the MPD’s actions in the Fletcher matter,” the letter says.
The family’s request for an independent investigation is slated to get to AG Marshall’s office Tuesday. At this time, there is no indication whether Marshall will consider moving forward with a review of the case.