DECATUR, Ala. (WHNT) — It was a packed house at Decatur’s City Council meeting on Monday.
After the agenda items were finished, the council opened the floor to public comment. Around 15 people signed up to read statements and ask questions of the council, relating to the death of Stephen Perkins in an officer-involved shooting in September.
“Why every time we come to these meetings you guys are giving us nothing,” Teairra Bolden said. “I know you’re limited but give us something, some kind of care, something that you care a little bit. Not every answer ‘let us get information’, we are traumatized.”
“Not just a family, the city is traumatized,” Bolden said. “We need some dates that you guys can get information and give us something so we can sleep at night again, we’re not sleeping at night.”
Some community members say they don’t need to see the police body camera of the incident because of the security camera video provided by neighbors. However, others are pushing for it to be released, at the very least, to the Perkins family.
“It’s taking all this time to show the bodycam,” one man said. “It’s either that you are lying, or hiding something, that’s what they believe.”
Sheree Head, who is a cousin of Stephen Perkins, said her family wasn’t notified by Decatur Police of the shooting.
“I left Huntsville Hospital with my aunt, knowing nothing about what happened to her son,” she said. “We get home we’re still trying to figure out what happened to her son. I had to read it on a Facebook post. No one from the police department even called and said, ‘An incident took place at your home.”
Head questioned the policies in place within the department for notifying family members after shootings.
Several people who spoke called for the resignation or firing of Police Chief Todd Pinion, Mayor Tab Bowling, and other city officials. Things got heated when one man asked a question directed at Mayor Bowling.
“Do the police department have a community relations board, yes or no?” the man said. Mayor Bowling interrupted the man saying, “Get all your questions out and then we’ll answer.”
Mayor Bowling followed up by saying, “The tail’s not wagging the dog here, get all your questions out.”
According to Merriam-Webster’s dictionary, that phrase is used to “describe a situation in which an important or powerful person, organization, etc., is being controlled by someone or something that is much less important or powerful.”
That statement didn’t go over too well with the crowd at the meeting. The man who was speaking at the podium said, “Tab, that’s really showing your character, if I were you or the Chief I’d go ahead and resign.”
Later on, Mayor Bowling said that evidence like the police body camera video is currently in possession of the Alabama Law Enforcement Agency (ALEA), and that Decatur can’t move on with an internal investigation until ALEA completes its investigation.
“We don’t have that information yet to actually be able to conduct that portion of the investigation,” Bowling said. “That’s just the way it works, we cannot… there’s nothing that you can do and come up here and saying that’s going to change that.”
Council President Jacob Ladner said during the meeting that he has spoken with state representatives in Montgomery, to try and urge ALEA to prioritize the investigation.
In an interview with News 19, Ladner said, “We have sort of put them [ALEA] on notice that we as representatives of the city want this thing to happen as fast as possible.”
Police Chief Todd Pinion was in attendance at Monday’s meeting, however, he did not make any comments.
News 19 spoke with the Chief briefly after the meeting. We asked Pinion if he would make any new comments or statements on camera and he declined “at this time”.
During the meeting, several community members commented on how they were upset that the Chief had not called a press conference or given a video statement in wake of admitting to “inaccuracies” in the original press release of the incident.
Many community members who were present at the meeting said they would not stop showing up to city hall and meetings until they get justice for Stephen Perkins. Another protest is scheduled for Wednesday evening outside Decatur City Hall. According to a Facebook event for the protest, several hundred people plan to attend.
All of News 19’s reporting on the death of Stephen Perkins and the investigation can be found here.