“The problem for us,” said Joe Knowski, “is that we're not in charge of the investigation at all, not one part of it. The DLPD was never involved in any part of the investigation. We never even filled out reports. The BCI took over at the very beginning..."

The investigation of the shooting of Danny Fuller is moving into its third month.  Fuller was shot by Devils Lake police detective Brandon Potts on July 5, 2018.  It was originally projected the investigation, conducted by the North Dakota Bureau of Criminal Investigation, would take eight weeks.  The BCI, at the end of August, met with the state’s attorney and the attorney general’s office and decided to investigate further.

“The problem for us,” said Joe Knowski, “is that we’re not in charge of the investigation at all, not one part of it.  The DLPD was never involved in any part of the investigation.  We never even filled out reports.  The BCI took over at the very beginning.  And at this point the Fullers probably know as much as I do about Danny’s shooting.”  Knowski is the Devils Lake Chief of Police.  “I’ve said from the outset I wanted this investigation resolved as quickly as possible, no matter the finding or the outcome.  It’s imperative that justice is done.”

Knowski said he really does understand the family’s frustration and anger over how long the investigation into the shooting has taken.  He said that he and the department are just as frustrated.  “The investigators told us and the Fullers it would take two months and we’d all have an answer, and there still isn’t an answer.  But it is important that there are no unanswered questions when it is done.”

One of the biggest criticisms directed at the department is the administrative leave on which Potts was placed.  The objection from the Fuller family in particular is that Potts is still being paid.  “I can understand why they would be angry,” said Knowski.  “However, this is an investigation and no one has been charged or found guilty of anything.  There’s no disputing that he shot Danny, but that’s not what’s being investigated from what I’ve been told.  And no employer would exact a punitive punishment against any employee being investigated.  This is a serious and grievous event that does affect everyone involved, even Potts.  But it is still an investigation.  And as I said, we have no part of it, which is a good thing, in my opinion.  Having an impartial, outside party investigate puts any finding above board.”

The Fuller family has recently condemned the department and city of refusing to give them copies of the both the city’s and department’s personnel policies.  These, the Fullers claim, would offer support to their claim procedures haven’t been followed.  “All they have to do is pay for copies,” said Knowski.  “But if the family wants our policies they’re welcomed to come here and look at them.”  He pointed to two large binders on a shelf.  “That’s them right there.  The little blue binder next to them is the city’s policies.  I don’t have any copies I can give out, but they can certainly come here and look at them.  I’ve got nothing to hide, nor does the department.”

What has vexed both the Fullers and Knowski from the outset was Marsy’s Law being applied to Potts as a victim.  Because Marsy’s Law was invoked, Potts’ name couldn’t be immediately released, something Knowski said he wanted to do immediately.  Knowski said he’d never heard of the law being used like that, nor had other police chiefs he talked to.  Marsy’s Law must be requested by the victim at the time of an assault, and be requested of the investigating agency. 

“It’s an ongoing investigation,” said Ramsey County state’s attorney Kari Agotness.  “So I can’t even tell you how it was invoked, even if I knew.  You could call the attorney general’s office or BCI, but they’d probably just give you, ‘No comment.’  It is a rule for prosecutors never to talk about any aspect of an ongoing investigation.  All I can say is that when it is concluded we’ll then be able to let you know.  Right now, I don’t know when that will be.”

“What happened that day was very tragic,” said Knowski.  “I had Terry Fuller right here in my office two days after it happened.  He wanted answers, rightfully so, to questions that I honestly couldn’t answer.  He said, ‘What do I do?’  I said grieve for your son and get an attorney.

“I’m a parent, a father, and I never want to get the call he got.  It’s heartbreaking.  Unfortunately, I still don’t know anything.  This investigation is completely out of our hands and in the hands of the BCI, and has been from the beginning, and as I said that’s frustrating for everyone.  I’m waiting for a conclusion.  Others are looking for closure.”

{This article has been updated to correct a misspelling.}