DECATUR, Ala. (WHNT) — The family of a Decatur man who was killed in an officer-involved shooting on September 29 has retained a national civil rights lawyer.
According to the Alabama Law Enforcement Agency (ALEA), a police officer shot Stephen Perkins, 39, after they said he pointed a weapon toward an officer. Perkins later died at a nearby hospital.
Lee Merritt is a lawyer with experience in civil rights litigation, and the Perkins family has retained him in an effort to ‘seek justice and accountability’ for Stephen’s death.
“The Perkins family seeks justice and accountability for the untimely death of their loved one, who was shot seven times by Decatur police officers despite never posing a threat to law enforcement. Steve Perkins, a responsible gun owner and property owner, was merely protecting his property when this unfortunate incident occurred. The family firmly believes that the use of excessive force by the Decatur police officers was unwarranted and unjustifiable. They have chosen to engage the services of Lee Merritt to ensure that their pursuit of justice is thorough, transparent, and effective.”Office of Lee Merritt
The Decatur Police Department (DPD) said officers were at the home in the area of Ryan Drive and Poole Valley Road after being called by a towing company. According to the department, Perkins had threatened the tow truck driver after the driver tried to repossess a vehicle at his home.
However, a statement released by the Perkins Family says they believe the tow truck had come to the home by mistake.
When officers arrived at the home in the area of Ryan Drive and Poole Valley Road with the tow truck driver, DPD says Perkins came outside, and “pulled a handgun” on the tow truck driver again. ALEA said Perkins was found to be armed with a handgun that was equipped with a light.
Perkins began threatening the tow truck driver, DPD said in a press release. Officers told the homeowner to drop his weapon, however, he refused. Perkins is said to have pointed that weapon towards an officer.
DPD said the officer fired at Perkins, hitting him. The officer called for medical assistance and began to give first aid. The homeowner, later identified as Perkins by ALEA, was taken to Huntsville Hospital where he later died from his injuries.
Per DPD policy, the officer will be placed on administrative leave, and ALEA will continue to investigate the incident. Once ALEA’s investigation is complete, the findings will be turned over to the Morgan County District Attorney’s Office.
Merritt said he will be working with the family, “to uncover the truth surrounding the circumstances of the shooting and seek justice through all available legal avenues.” He added that they “are committed to ensuring that this incident is thoroughly investigated, and that any systemic issues within the Decatur Police Department are addressed and rectified.”
Perkins’s family is holding a vigil on Thursday night at 7:30 p.m. at the Decatur Police Department, located at 402 Lee Street NE.