DECATUR, Ala. (WHNT) – Amongst calls for justice for a man recently killed in an officer-involved shooting, the Decatur Police Department (DPD) chief has released new information on the investigation.
The Alabama Law Enforcement Agency (ALEA) confirmed a Decatur police officer shot Stephen Perkins, 39, after authorities claimed he pointed ‘a handgun which was also equipped with a light’ at officers. Perkins later died at a nearby hospital.
Community members argue that much remains unclear about Perkins’ death.
“Any time a police officer uses deadly force, questions should be asked, and answers provided,” Chief Todd Pinion said in a statement.
Pinion cited the fact that two separate investigations are underway to provide answers to those questions, one by ALEA’s State Bureau of Investigation and another by DPD’s Office of Professional Standards. “ALEA’s investigation takes priority. There are certain investigative steps in our internal investigation which can only occur after specific parts in ALEA’s investigation,” he added.
The chief pledged to be transparent and to release any info as soon as they are able.
“There are certain investigative steps in our internal investigation which can only occur after specific parts in ALEA’s investigation. Investigations take time to complete, but I pledge transparency in providing any information we are able to share as soon as it is able to be released. At this time, Alabama law prohibits me from sharing information about any evidence in the incident or releasing any body-worn camera video. I look forward to the time when we have the full picture of what occurred and we are able to share that with you, no matter the outcome of both investigations.”
Pinion also apologized that “inaccurate information” was shared in the initial rush to release information to the public. Initial information shared with the public from DPD indicated that Mr. Perkins was ordered to “drop his weapon” before officers shot him multiple times.
“We now know the officer identified themselves as “police” and ordered Mr. Perkins to “get on the ground” prior to the officer firing rather than ordering him to drop the weapon at that time as we initially reported the morning of the shooting. That means that we also erred in stating Mr. Perkins “refused” to drop his firearm prior to the shooting,” Pinion stated. “I apologize for the inaccurate description of the encounter in our initial statement, and we have already taken steps to improve our public information-sharing process.”
Finishing off his statement, Chief Pinion said that the department has welcomed the exercising of 1st Amendment rights and facilitated prior protests without arrest, but did arrest nine people during protests over the weekend – for obstructing traffic on main roadways as well as disorderly conduct language in public.
The Alabama Law Enforcement Agency (ALEA) continues to investigate the shooting. You can find all of News 19’s previous coverage and the latest on this case here.