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Brother unveils artwork honoring Fargo man fatally shot by police

"I feel like I died that day, too,” Ryan Netterville wrote. “(My art is) just something I wanted to do for him, something that needed to be done for Shane. It’s one last thing I can do.”

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Ryan Netterville's art dedicated to his brother, Shane Netterville, is on display during the reception for the 2023 North Dakota Human Rights Arts Festival on Thursday, Jan. 19, 2023, at the Plains Art Museum, Fargo.
Michael Vosburg / The Forum
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FARGO — Ryan Netterville showcased his artwork on Thursday, Jan. 19, at the North Dakota Human Rights Arts Festival in the memory of his brother Shane Netterville, a 28-year-old Native American man who was shot and killed by a white Fargo police officer in July .

North Dakota Attorney General Drew Wrigley previously reviewed the case and found it did not merit criminal charges against the officer. An internal investigation by Fargo police also found that the officer did not violate any department policies.

The case, however, continues to reverberate in the community.

After months of discussion, the Fargo Police Oversight and Advisory Board decided in December they would not recommend an independent consultant investigate the shooting .

The Human Rights Commission at an upcoming meeting has plans to discuss how the community can move forward in the wake of an officer-involved shooting or death.

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That discussion was mirrored within the community Thursday when dozens of people gathered to view the work of regional artists at the Plains Art Museum in Fargo.

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Ryan Netterville, brother of Shane Netterville, stands outside the city hall chambers on Dec 8, 2022, holding a memorial to his brother.
Melissa Van Der Stad / The Forum

Ryan Netterville, who declined an interview, directed The Forum to his artist’s statement.

“Honestly, with this whole thing and how everything’s gone on, I feel like I died that day, too. I want no recognition,” Ryan Netterville wrote. “You could put Anonymous on (my art), and it wouldn’t bother me. It’s just something I wanted to do for him, something that needed to be done for Shane. It’s one last thing I can do.”

He also created a marker for Shane Netterville’s grave when he died.

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The grave marker that Ryan Netterville made for his brother Shane Netterville.
Submitted photo / Karen Van Fossan

“I made it because for our mom’s grave, that plastic thing they put on the ground, the marker, was busted up,” Ryan Netterville wrote. “I didn’t want that for Shane.”

The three photos on Shane Netterville’s obituary are the only photos that Ryan Netterville has of his brother, according to his artist’s statement.

Shane Netterville had two bear paw tattoos on his chest that inspired Ryan Netterville’s artwork. He plans on getting them tattooed on his own chest in his brother’s memory.

One paw reads "SHANE" and the other "GMRJM," the initials of Shane Netterville’s siblings.

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The artwork that Ryan Netterville made in honor of his brother, Shane Netterville.
Submitted photo / Ryan Netterville

Karen Van Fossan, a board member for the Human Family, the organization that hosts the art festival, said she's "grateful to Ryan for sharing Shane’s memory and keeping the story of Shane’s life and death present."

Van Fossan helped suggest Ryan Netterville feature his work in the event.

Vanessa Jugarap, a friend of Ryan Netterville, spoke about the exhibit to the gathered crowd. She hopes the art will help draw attention to Shane Netterville's memory.

Woman speaks into a microphone while holding a pamplet with two bear paws on it and a man's photograph in from of an art exhibit comprised of two pencil drawings in frames and a stack of other pamphlets.
Vanessa Jugarap, a friend of Ryan Netterville, speaking about the exhibit to the gathered crowd on Thursday, Jan. 19, 2022.
Melissa Van Der Stad / The Forum

“I feel as a community this is something we should all be working together on,” Jugarap said.

There is a “ community of people ” who are working to keep Shane’s memory alive in the community, Van Fossan said.

“The community will continue to show up,” Van Fossan said, at local government meetings of the Human Rights Commission, the Police Accountability and Oversight Board, the Native American Commission and the City Commission itself.

Various speakers, Van Fossan included, have routinely spoken at these meetings during the public comment period about Shane Netterville's death. Ryan Netterville routinely attends these meetings.

During the Human Rights Commission meeting on Jan. 19, Van Fossan and Christopher Coen asked that they keep Shane Netterville centered in their work. Both suggested that the board request that the US Attorney review the case.

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Van Fossan said they want to see “reparations” made to the family of Shane Netterville.

“The strain on a family when this happens is huge,” Van Fossan said, noting a desire for an increase of community support for the Netterville family.

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