DECATUR, Ala. (WHNT) — Leaders in the River City have brought in an outside legal team to help determine if Decatur police officers broke conduct the night of the officer-involved shooting that killed Stephen Perkins.
The city held a press conference Thursday to talk about both the protests that have been happening since Perkins’ death and the move to bring in a legal team.
Decatur Mayor Tab Bowling said the decision to bring in an independent legal counsel was to allow for a thorough internal investigation into the officers involved during the night Perkins was killed. He says the intent behind this was to avoid any conflicts of interest and to help ensure an impartial investigation could be conducted.
The independent legal counsel is being led by Huntsville Attorney Robert Lockwood. Lockwood says he will oversee the investigation into whether or not the officers involved in the Perkins shooting should face disciplinary action from the department.
“My mission has been made abundantly clear to me be diligent, be prompt, be fair. As I sit here today early in the process, I can’t give you a specific date by which it’s going to be complete,” Lockwood said.
City leaders say throughout October, they have heard the voices of protesters and encouraged peaceful protests. However, Bowling says they cannot allow situations to become a potential hazard like they did on October 19th when demonstrators blocked traffic on the Hudson Memorial Bridge.
“Anything that would impede traffic, anything related to that’s outlined in disorderly conduct just cannot be tolerated,” Bowling said.
Decatur Police Chief Todd Pinion said the internal investigation that’s ongoing is separate from the Alabama Law Enforcement Agency’s review of the case.
Once the internal investigation is completed, Lockwood’s legal team will begin their work.
The chief says he understood the people of Decatur are hurting over the incident and he asked the public to remain patient as the investigation into the shooting continues.
“We recognize the community’s and our own desire for a speedy investigation, but this must not sacrifice the integrity of the administrative investigation as well,” Pinion said.
In reference to the mistake made in the initial press release on behalf of the department, the chief said he’s working to ensure a situation like that never happens again.
“Sometimes in an effort to rush some things, we’re wrong and I had to take that back and I want to make sure that we’re thorough and have a complete and thorough investigation on this,” Pinion told News 19. “Yes we want to be speedy throughout all this, but we want to make sure we have it right.”
City leaders say they could not provide a definitive timeline for when the investigation will be completed. They’re asking for the public to remain patient as the investigation continues.