DEVILS LAKE -- The family of Daniel Fuller formally addressed the Devils Lake City Commission for the first time since their son was fatally shot by Police Det. Brandon Potts in July.
Fuller’s mother, Marla Fuller, was allowed five minutes to speak at the meeting and asked the City Commission to not reinstate Potts. She said everyone in North Dakota, including law enforcement, must be held “accountable for their actions.”
“We cannot allow something like this to happen because the citizens of this great community, we put the utmost respect in our law enforcement officials. Disregarding this man’s actions will forever taint the image of the Devils Lake Police Department,” she said.
Daniel Fuller, who was unarmed when he was shot in the back of the head, had run from officers who were responding to a report of a suspect breaking into homes in Devils Lake and who may have been armed, according to a summary report by Ramsey County State’s Attorney Kari Agotness.
The report said Fuller lunged at Potts, who attempted to defend himself by hitting Fuller with a pistol “three or four times” before the weapon fired. The gun did not malfunction but went off when Potts pulled the trigger. The inadvertent discharge was attributed to involuntary muscular contraction, the report said.
Potts was placed on paid administrative leave and has yet to return to the force.
The case is now being reviewed by the FBI and could take years to complete.
“North Dakota is not a death penalty state. We do not have the right to terminate someone’s life because they have been charged, let alone accused of a crime,” Marla Fuller told commissioners.
Although they have attended other meetings, the family was previously told they would not be allowed to speak at the meeting “per advice of legal counsel,” according to Marla Fuller.
The family's attorney, J. Ashwin Madia, had sent a letter to city officials regarding Daniel Fuller's death. The letter dated July 12 states the family's intent to file a lawsuit against the police department, citing "wrongful death and deprivation of constitutional rights."
The letter states that the Fullers seek $20 million from the city.
Last month, Daniel Fuller’s father, Terry Fuller, spoke out during a commission meeting, calling the commissioners “cowards” and calling for the city to fire Potts.
Potts’ personnel file showed complaints and letters of praise. He has been suspended multiple times for issues while on duty and at a training in 2013.
“Given his history as an officer of the law and prior inaccuracies while employed, being terminated from the Devils Lake Police Department is the only action and system of accountability at this point,” Marla Fuller said.
She also pointed to a poll on the “Justice for Daniel Fuller in Devils Lake, ND” Facebook page, where 94 percent of voters said they believe Potts should not be reinstated to the force.
“So, how will the public respond if this avoidable tragedy is allowed, overlooked and blatantly ignored as if nothing happened?” she said.
Marla Fuller said the “catastrophe” could have been avoided if “proper disciplinary action” had been taken beforehand. She added that going forward the department should “vow to be proactive” rather than “reactive” to situations like these and “further eliminate the possibility of ever laying another soul to rest.”
“Say his name. His name was Daniel Aaron Fuller, a life just as deserving as you and I, a life stolen from his family, his friends and his community,” Marla Fuller said. “As his mother, I stand here tonight in hopes of finding healing faith and forgiveness in my heart, asking you not to further divide the people but to bring peace and justice to us all.”
The city commissioners did not respond to the family.
When asked why the family had not been allowed to speak at previous meetings and about the city commission’s ability to make remarks, city attorney Tom Traynor said he had no comment.