DECATUR, Ala. (WHNT) — It’s been one month since Stephen “Clay” Perkins was killed in a Decatur police officer-involved shooting. The incident has sparked a movement along with a string of protests as the community continues seeking justice for Perkins and his family.
Local pastors joined protestors Sunday where they spoke out against the city’s recent press conference and the body camera footage not being released to Perkins’ family.
Community leaders across North Alabama say the Alabama Law Enforcement Agency’s refusal to release the body cam footage is only adding to the hurt the Perkins family continues to experience.
Hopewell Missionary Baptist Church Pastor Larry Davidson Jr. says the police footage not being made available to the family by ALEA is preventing Perkins’ loved ones from getting the closure they deserve.
“Nothing is going to change what’s on that video. Whether you see it or the family sees it, it still remains the same what happened that night,” the reverend told News 19. “I think that it does begin the healing process to have that so there’s a process that begins that leads to answers and relief. We’re going to continue support and stand with this family.”
This past week, city leaders called a press conference regarding the outside legal counsel they hired to oversee the internal investigation into the officers involved the night Perkins was killed.
Pastors and community leaders had words for those who are in charge in Decatur.
Shiloh Missionary Baptist Church’s First Lady Claudette Owens says the recent press conference by the city was a private matter and a move she says was unacceptable to both the Perkins family and the community.
“We believe you [the city] are wrong for continued narratives you used in describing the shooting, which we believe often dehumanized Mr. Perkins just to justify the shooting,” Owens said. “We are even more confused and in greater disbelief after the private closed press conference on Thursday, October 26th announcing publicly investigations previously unknown even to the family.”
Community members like Sharon Stanley say local pastors joining the demonstrations are key in the ongoing effort to get justice.
As for the body cam footage, Stanley believes videos of the incident on social media have already told the community what they need to know.
“It’s just a ploy to lengthen this. The officers, the chief, the mayor, they should be fighting for this family to get the justice they need. I think its unfair, unjust that they don’t release that to the family because they’re entitled to it,” Stanley said. “It’s imperative that we see our leaders, our church leaders those that we look up to out on the frontlines with us seeking justice for Steve Perkins.”
The community placed an emphasis on their continued efforts in seeking justice, a movement they say will be continued as they plan to pack the Decatur City Hall for the city council’s work session Monday.