Police, NAACP leader agree with Dover shooting report findings

 

DOVER — Local police and a community leader agreed with findings that a Dover Police Department officer was justified in shooting a fleeing suspect in August 2015.

On Wednesday afternoon, the Delaware Attorney General’s Office released a report that determined Pfc. Ryan Schmid did not act criminally when firing twice at Terrence Fletcher as he emerged from an alleyway in downtown Dover.

Terrance Fletcher Jr.

Terrance Fletcher Jr.

Mr. Fletcher, who officers believed was armed, was shot once in the right thigh; a firearm was later located and the suspect was charged with a felony weapons charge.

After the findings were made public, Dover Police Department Chief Paul Bernat issued a statement within roughly two hours that read, “We had full confidence that our officer used the appropriate measures in this case and we are pleased that the Attorney General’s report supported the findings of our agencies separate investigation.”

Dover Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 15 President David Gist said on Thursday that his organization “was happy he was cleared of charges.”

“No officer looks forward to using deadly force and we’re just glad the AG’s office took the investigation seriously,”

Late last month, the Delaware State Lodge Fraternal Order of Police posted a “no confidence” statement regarding Attorney General Matt Denn on its Facebook page, accusing him of “cowardice” and “pandering for votes” while investigating police-involved shootings in Wilmington and Dover. Attempts to reach FOP President Fred Calhoun on Wednesday and Thursday were unsuccessful.

After National Association for the Advancement of Colored People members visited Mr. Fletcher in prison to get his version of the incident, Central Delaware Branch President La Mar Gunn said he was content with the ultimate outcome.

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La Mar Gunn

“My position was that I was happy he wasn’t dead and I was also happy no one else was dead or hurt,” Mr. Gunn said Thursday.

“What I was most happy with was that a gun was taken off the streets.”

Regarding the African-American community, Mr. Gunn said, “We can’t always think police are wrong in every shooting, and on the flip side police can’t feel that every shooting is justified.

“We have to look at the facts and acknowledge that young black men sometimes make mistakes, and keep in mind that law enforcement can be liable at times, too. When people blindly have a person guilty on either side it hurts the situations where there is just cause for concern.”

Speaking in big picture terms, Mr. Gunn said he believes that the penalties for purchasing and selling illegal weapons should be increased or at least enforced as is written in law.

“There needs to be less pleading down of serious cases involving guns,” he said.

Mr. Fletcher pleaded guilty to carrying a concealed deadly weapon on Dec. 16, 2015, and was sentenced to eight years Level V incarceration, suspended after five months, followed by one year of Level III probation. His effective sentencing date was Aug. 28, 2015.

Authorities said Mr. Fletcher violated probation in March 2016, and a Level V sentence of seven years, seven months resulted, suspended for six months Level IV house arrest with electronic monitoring, followed by one year of Level III probation with intensive supervision by the state probation and parole office.

Reach staff writer Craig Anderson at canderson@newszap.com

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