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Decatur fires 3 officers, suspends 4th in Perkins shooting

Decatur Mayor Tab Bowling announced police officers were terminated in the aftermath of the Stephen Perkins shooting.

Stephen Perkins Family/GoFundMe

Finally, the city of Decatur has made a move. 

Decatur Mayor Tab Bowling announced Thursday afternoon that three police officers have been terminated and a fourth placed on suspension for the deadly shooting of Steve Perkins more than two months ago. 

The actions by Bowling come after an internal review conducted by the city that DPD Chief Todd Pinion said found policy violations by the officers. Bowling did not release the officers’ names and said an exception to Alabama’s Open Records Act allowed the city to withhold details of the investigation. However, if the officers appeal the decision, all of the information, including their names, will be made public. The fourth officer wasn’t fired, Bowling said, because his involvement in the incident was deemed to be lesser; he will not be paid while on suspension, Bowling said.

“It is incumbent that we work to move forward and work to ensure that this tragedy is not forgotten or ignored,” Bowling said during a press conference. He said the city would take additional steps to review policies “from top to bottom” and work on communication with citizens. 

The city’s review is separate from an ongoing investigation of the shooting being conducted by the Alabama Law Enforcement Agency. When that investigation will be completed, or why it’s taking months, is unclear. After its completion, however, it is expected that the results will be turned over to the Morgan County District Attorney’s Office for possible prosecution. 

Perkins was gunned down in his front yard in the early hours of Sept. 29. Perkins exited his house to confront a tow truck driver who was attempting to repossess Perkins’ truck. DPD, in a press statement immediately after the shooting, said Perkins had threatened the driver and turned a firearm on police after being ordered to drop it. 

Within hours, however, Perkins’ neighbors began posting security camera footage of the incident on social media, and those videos painted a very different and very disturbing scene. It showed Decatur officers quietly arriving at Perkins’ home, their vehicle lights turned off as they drove up, parking well away from Perkins’ home and taking up hiding positions around Perkins’ home and behind parked cars across the street. 

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As he exited his home, two officers sprang from hiding places behind Perkins’ home. One officer shouted, “Police! Get on the ground.” Less than a second after saying the word “ground,” the officer began firing. In total, 18 shots were fired, with seven striking Perkins. 

As he lay dying in his front yard, the tow truck driver – a witness to the shooting – left with Perkins’ truck. 

“Three officers being fired and one being suspended is no comparison to Catrela (Perkins) losing her husband, me losing my brother, my mom losing her son, that’s not justified. We want these officers prosecuted,” Nicholas Perkins told WHNT-TV. “We deserve more, Catrela definitely deserves more, this Perkins Family deserves more. And so we won’t give up until we get what we deserve.”

An attorney for the family, Cannon Lambert, said the family plans to sue the city. 

Josh Moon is an investigative reporter and featured columnist at the Alabama Political Reporter with years of political reporting experience in Alabama. You can email him at [email protected] or follow him on Twitter.

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