DEVILS LAKE, N.D.-Dozens of people in support of a Devils Lake family whose son was fatally shot by police in July took to the streets Monday evening, Sept. 17, during the City's Commission meeting to protest his death and call for the dismissal of the detective who shot him.
Around 50 family members and supporters of Daniel Aaron Fuller gathered for a peaceful demonstration in a parking lot across from City Hall as commissioners met at 5:30 p.m. Fuller, 26, was shot in the back of the head by Devils Lake police Det. Brandon Potts after a foot chase led to a reported struggle between the two on July 5.
Allyson Bartlett, Daniel Fuller's sister, said the support they received Monday means a lot to her and her family.
"It shows that there's a lot of compassionate people in this community," she said.
Bartlett, who grew up in Devils Lake, said she feels there is corruption in the police department and in the city. She wants the city to be more transparent going forward.
"There's a lot of racism. There's a lot of stereotyping. There's a lot of racial profiling that goes on, and I'm trying to bring awareness to that," she said. "That's why you see so many different cultures that are here to support (us)."
Bartlett said she has also received messages from people who didn't come to the protest because they were scared for their jobs. She also said others have reached out to the family about their experiences dealing with Potts, claims she says aren't in his personnel file.
"Had they dealt with it then, my brother would still be alive," she said.
The family has received no recent updates about the case.
There was no police presence at the demonstration as protesters held up signs that read "Justice for Danny is justice for all," "Danny's life mattered" and "Dear DLPD, There's blood on your hands," among others. Many were also wearing shirts that read "Justice for Danny" on the back.
Fuller's mother, Marla, had requested to address city leaders at the Monday meeting, but a city official notified Marla Fuller last week via email she would not be allowed to speak at the meeting "per advice of legal counsel."
So instead supporters gathered outside of the meeting and shouted things like "Pack your bags, Johnson," a reference to Devils Lake Mayor Dick Johnson, as well as "Hands up, don't shoot. Detective Potts deserves the boot." The protest lasted more than an hour.
The commission members did not address the crowd.
Marla Fuller spoke during the demonstration. She encouraged the City Commission to do what they can to "attract the best and the brightest" to do an officer's job. She said this should include increasing pay and benefits that would appeal to the "right person" to do the job.
"I realize that being a police officer is a tough job,. They have an enormous amount of responsibility to the community. They often deal with challenging situations and protect us from harm.
"Police have so much power; we give them a lot of power. We give them power over people and sometimes power leads to errors in judgement. We need to make sure that there is no room for errors that result in the death or serious harm of anyone else," Marla Fuller said.
Marla Fuller also said there need to be policies in place that protect citizens and officers. She added that officers should be trained in multicultural awareness and "trauma informed practice" so they are less likely to make "impulsive decisions that could potentially end up tragic."
She said having continuous psychological training for police officers to ensure they are properly trained is important.
"Burying my son was not easy for us. We are still struggling with not knowing exactly what happened, and this is tough on the whole family," she said, adding that they understand it is an open investigation so the video of the incident cannot be revealed, though she feels it would answer a lot of questions.
"Justice for Danny will be justice for all," she said.
Chris Taylor, a local resident who is close with the family, said it is important to hold leaders accountable for their actions and decisions.
"As people we have to come together," he said. "When an injustice has been carried out, we have an obligation as a community to come together and right that wrong. Sometimes government can't do it-that's why we vote; that's why we come out and peacefully protest."
Taylor doesn't want officers who are under active investigation to be paid. If an officer is later acquitted, then the officer could receive back pay, he said.
"It's not just here-it's across the country that there's starting to be this rift between police officers and the communities they serve," Taylor said.