Three Alabama officers fired and one suspended over Stephen Perkins shooting

Perkins, 39, was killed by police in front of his home on 29 September

Andrea Blanco
Saturday 09 December 2023 00:46 GMT
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<p>Police Shooting Alabama</p>

Police Shooting Alabama

Three Alabama police officers have been fired and a fourth one has been suspended without pay more than two months after they were involved in the deadly shooting of a man.

Decatur Mayor Tab Bowling said he had decided on the measure after an early inquiry found the officers violated policy during Steve Perkins’s 29 September shooting. The mayor did not specify what policy was violated.

Perkins, 39, was killed by police in front of his home in a confrontation that began with a tow truck driver trying to repossess his truck.

The driver reported that Perkins flashed a gun, so officers accompanied the driver when he went back to the home where Perkins was shot and killed by officers. Per Alabama law, the officers’ names will not be made public during the ongoing investigation, unless they decide to appeal the process, the mayor said.

“While the Mayor’s decision brings resolution to one portion of the investigation into what occurred, an active criminal investigation by the Alabama Law Enforcement Agency continues,” Chief Todd Pinion said in a statement.

“That investigation is independent of the now-concluded Decatur Police Department Administrative investigation. As I have said from the earliest days, we will accept whatever decision results from that process.”

In October, Chief Pinion acknowledged that his department gave “inaccurate information” about what was said before officers shot and killed Perkins. The department had previously said that officers ordered Perkins to drop his weapon and that he refused to do so.

The chief later said that the officers identified themselves as “police” and ordered Perkins to “get on the ground.”

“That means that we also erred in stating Mr Perkins ‘refused’ to drop his firearm prior to the shooting. I apologize for the inaccurate description of the encounter in our initial statement,” Pinion wrote. “I apologize for the inaccurate description of the encounter in our initial statement, and we have already taken steps to improve our public information-sharing process.”

Video from a neighbour’s home surveillance camera video, published by WAFF, captured the shooting. An officer is heard shouting “Police, get on the ground” and shots are then immediately fired in rapid succession.

Police have not released body camera footage of the shooting.

Lee Merritt, an attorney representing the Perkins family, said in November that officers did not announce their presence when they arrived on the property and opened fire within a second of telling Perkins to get on the ground.

He said Perkins did not appear aware of their presence. The family has asked for charges to be filed against the officers.

Perkins’s family issued a statement saying that the truck payments were up to date so the truck shouldn’t have been towed.

In a previous statement, Chief Pinion promised “transparency in providing any information we are able to share as soon as it is able to be released.”

“There is understandably much public conversation about the shooting of Stephen Perkins. Any time a police officer uses deadly force, questions should be asked, and answers provided,” Chief Pinion wrote.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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