August 5, 2020

Alabama city rethinks celebration of officers who shot, killed Black man outside gym

An Alabama city has put on hold plans to honor three police officers who were involved in the fatal shooting of a Black man outside a gym, according to officials.

Madison Police Chief Dave Jernigan announced he decided to halt the ceremony at City Hall after speaking with Mayor Paul Finley, saying the timing was “not optimal,” news outlets reported Monday, citing a statement from Jernigan.

The officers who were set to be presented with departmental medals were among those involved in a confrontation with Dana Fletcher, 39, outside a gymnasium in October 2019 after responding to a report of a suspicious person, Al.com reported.

Fletcher’s wife and 8-year-old daughter were with him in a van when officers approached them, Cherelle Fletcher posted publicly on Facebook at the time.

Cherelle Fletcher maintained that her husband was not armed, but a still image taken from police video and released by Madison County District Attorney Rob Broussard showed what appeared to be a gun in Dana Fletcher’s left hand.

Authorities alleged Dana Fletcher pointed the gun at officers and Broussard said Fletcher repeatedly told police to shoot him before they opened fire, fatally striking him.

Broussard said the officers were justified in their actions and declined to bring charges.

“The officers involved in this incident displayed bravery in defending themselves, other officers and the public,” Jernigan said in his statement Sunday.

Fletcher’s family and community members have called for increased transparency from officials and for authorities to release the full body camera video during ongoing protests against racial injustice sparked in part by the death of George Floyd, Al.com reported.

Floyd, who was Black, died after a white Minneapolis police officer pressed a knee against his neck for several minutes as Floyd lay face down on the ground.

Fletcher’s family spoke out against the ceremony in a statement obtained by Al.com.

“The more they double down in support of their unnecessary aggression against regular law-abiding people like Dana, the more obvious it will be once the truth comes out that the most dangerous criminals are the ones currently running Madison County,” the statement said.

Officials have not identified the officers involved in the shooting and the mayor declined to provide details about why the three officers were set to be honored.

It was not immediately clear whether the ceremony would be rescheduled.