Awards ceremony for Madison Police officers involved in controversial 2019 shooting canceled

Police awards ceremony postponed

MADISON, Ala. (WAFF) - A ceremony to honor the officers involved in the 2019 shooting death of Dana Fletcher has been canceled according to Madison’s Mayor.

Madison Mayor Paul Finley made the announcement via a press release sent on Monday.

In the release Mayor Finley called the now-canceled-ceremony “ill advised and ill-timed.”

In a separate statement that was sent on Sunday, Madison Police Chief David Jernigan said, “Following reports of an officer ceremony last week, Mayor Finley and I immediately decided timing is not optimal, and we have put the ceremony on hold.”

Jernigan also said, “The officers involved in this incident displayed bravery in defending themselves, other officers and the public at Planet Fitness last fall which was was validated following the Madison County District Attorney’s official report.”

That investigation by Madison County District Attorney Rob Broussard went through the timeline of the confrontation between Madison Police officers and Dana Fletcher.

The situation began with Madison Police officers being called to the Planet Fitness on Highway 72, on Oct. 27, 2019.

Officers said Dana Fletcher and another woman were inside the gym causing a disturbance. This led to an altercation in the gym’s parking lot between officers and Fletcher.

During a struggle with Fletcher, officers shot and killed him after he did not follow multiple orders and a taser proved to be ineffective.

During the investigation, Broussard broke down screen shots of surveillance video and body camera footage, part of which showed Fletcher with a gun.

During recent protests, people have continued to call for the full body camera footage to be released. Madison Police have not so far, because they anticipate a lawsuit to be filed in the case.

Here is the full statement released by Mayor Paul Finley on Monday:

First, as Mayor it is always my responsibility to manage City Hall and I shoulder that responsibility. On Friday I was approached by an AL.com reporter after our noon COVID update and asked about an email that Chief Jernigan had sent out Thursday afternoon regarding an in-house ceremony on Tuesday concerning the above mentioned awards. I explained I was aware of the awards but not of the magnitude the ceremony mentioned in the email.

Upon leaving I immediately investigated what I had learned and in turn realized the difference in what I had expected and what was planned. We immediately canceled the ceremony with Chief sending out another internal email at 3:30 Friday afternoon.

I was not contacted by the Al.com reporter again and thus, did not see any reason to send anything out. As with all of you, I then read the article Sunday afternoon and asked Chief to respond, which he did Sunday night.

My responsibility as Mayor is to manage better. We were ill advised and ill-timed and I apologize to our community.

Each time an individual or group comes to see me concerning the Dana Fletcher situation looking for more information we ask them if they have viewed the full District Attorney’s out brief on November 15th. They presented that our officers acted in self-defense and show both still pictures and video. I would ask if you have not taken the time to watch the full press conference that you please do, you can find it on any of our local medias website. Since that time the City of Madison has received three Notice of Claims from the Fletcher family, each for $100,000,000. Thus, the City has and will continue to stand by the District Attorney’s presentation.

Here is the full statement from Madiosn Police Chief Dave Jernigan released on Sunday:

“Following reports of an officer ceremony last week, Mayor Finley and I immediately decided timing is not optimal, and we have put the ceremony on hold. The officers involved in this incident displayed bravery in defending themselves, other officers and the public at Planet Fitness last fall which was was validated following the Madison County District Attorney’s official report presented to the community on November 15, 2019. This decision was made Friday afternoon at 3:30pm after discussions with Mayor Finley, however original reporting was not followed up.”

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