Hundreds of demonstrators have joined family and friends in calling for transparency and accountability for the Madison, Alabama, police officers who killed Dana Fletcher in October 2019. Instead, city officials planned to present the officers with the department’s highest honor at an awards ceremony tonight.
Madison police responded to the parking lot outside a Planet Fitness on October 27, 2019, after someone called 911 to report that a Black couple was taking pictures and asking questions inside the gym, AL.com reported.
Dana Fletcher, a 39-year-old Black man, was in his van in the parking lot with his wife and young daughter when police arrived, according to AL.com. Police have said that Mr. Fletcher pointed a gun at police when they pulled him out of his van. Two officers fired at Mr. Fletcher, who suffered two gunshot wounds to the head, one to the shoulder, and additional graze wounds, prosecutors said. The entire confrontation lasted about nine minutes.
The Madison County District Attorney’s office released still images from police body camera video, which reporters said appeared to show Mr. Fletcher with a gun in his hand. Prosecutors announced less than three weeks later that the shooting was “entirely justified” and they would not pursue criminal charges against the officers. Five officers who were placed on leave were cleared to return to duty on November 25 by an internal review board made up of a police department commander, lieutenant, sergeant, and officer. The city and police department have refused to release the names of the officers.
Mr. Fletcher’s wife maintains that her husband was unarmed when he was shot and killed. The Fletcher family has called for local authorities to release the full video footage of the shooting and the recording of the 911 call that brought police to the parking lot. They have been protesting at a busy Madison intersection every Sunday since Mr. Fletcher was killed. On July 5, about 150 people joined the demonstration to demand transparency and accountability from public officials, AL.com reported.
On Sunday, July 19, AL.com reported that Madison city officials planned to present the Medal of Honor—the Madison Police Department’s highest award—to three officers “for their bravery” on the night of Mr. Fletcher’s killing. The private ceremony planned for tonight at City Hall was open only to police and city employees, city council members, and the officers’ family and friends, according to an email obtained by AL.com.
Shortly after the story was published, police chief Dave Jernigan said in a statement that he and the mayor had decided on Friday to put the ceremony on hold because the timing was “not optimal.” In a statement on Monday, mayor Paul Finley confirmed that the ceremony had been postponed. “We were ill advised and ill-timed, and I apologize to the community,” he said.