DECATUR, Ala. (WHNT) — As community members continue to press for answers in the shooting death of Stephen Perkins, the Decatur police chief has said he will soon be deciding whether officers involved in the shooting should be disciplined.
Chief Todd Pinion said last week the Decatur Police Department’s internal investigation has been completed, but also indicated he is not the last word on possible discipline. Alabama law includes civil service due process protections for police officers and other municipal employees facing possible disciplinary action.
The Decatur Police Department told News 19 Monday its predetermination hearing in the matter is likely to be held this week.
The police department’s internal review is about possible discipline for officers, but it is separate from the ongoing investigation into the Perkins shooting being conducted by the Alabama Law Enforcement Agency. An ALEA spokesman told News 19 Tuesday afternoon its investigation is ongoing.
Through their attorney, the Perkins family has called for the firing of the officer
who fired the fatal shots.
Chief Pinion said if he finds Decatur Police Department policy was violated and discipline is warranted, he will share the results of the predetermination hearing publicly.
But then it’s up to the mayor’s office.
Under Alabama law, the matter would then go to Decatur Mayor Tab Bowling for a determination hearing. At that hearing, Chief Pinion said the Mayor would hear the facts of the case and decide if discipline is warranted and to what extent.
The subject of that determination hearing is entitled to present his or her own evidence and further challenge any decision.
“The Mayor would then decide how and when to release that information to the public. Any decision by the Mayor could be appealed to the Personnel Board by any officer receiving discipline,” Pinion said.
At a city council work session on Monday, Bowling spoke on the multi-step legal process and why he has avoided commenting on the case.
“I recognize the pace of this process is frustrating and we all want answers,” Bowling said. “I’m following a process being guided by our legal department based on the laws in the state of Alabama, and I can’t go beyond those laws, in this process. If I were to go out and start willy-nilly making comments publicly, it would position me to where I would not be able to participate in this process. And so with that, oftentimes, I don’t say anything.”
News 19 spoke Monday to Alabama State Fraternal Order of Police President Everette Johnson. He said the due process protections for government employees are not unique to police officers. But he said when officer discipline issues arise — the multi-step, deliberative process provides protections for both officers and city governments.