The family of an Alabama man fatally shot by police outside his home is seeking answers about what exactly happened to their loved one.
Police shot 39-year-old Stephen Perkins outside his home in the northern Alabama city of Decatur on September 29 in a confrontation that began with a tow truck driver trying to repossess Perkins’ truck. According to the Associated Press, the driver reported that Perkins flashed a gun, so officers accompanied him when he returned to the home.
The Decatur Police Department said that when they arrived on the scene Perkins “turned the gun toward one of the officers,” and they shot him. The Alabama Law Enforcement Agency said Perkins had a handgun with a light on it.
However, an attorney representing the Perkins family, Lee Merritt, cited video footage from neighbors’ home security systems contradicting the police account. The video appears to show officers accompanying the tow truck driver onto the property but not announcing themselves before opening fire within seconds of instructing Perkins to get on the ground. Perkins seemed unaware of their presence, according to Merritt.
In the home surveillance video published by WAFF, an officer is heard shouting, “Police, get on the ground,” followed by rapid-fire shots.
“The policy of not announcing yourself and creeping up onto people’s properties. They will tell you it’s for officer protection so that they’re not ambushed, but what they did here was ambush Steve,” Merritt said.
Perkins’ family disputes the initial reason for the confrontation, stating that his truck was not in repossession, which is why he was disputing his vehicle being towed.
The Alabama Law Enforcement Agency (ALEA) is investigating the incident. They have opened a tip line for information and have promised a thorough investigation, with findings to be turned over to the Morgan County District Attorney’s Office.
Protests have taken place daily in Decatur since the incident occurred. The community is demanding answers and justice for Steve Perkins.
City and state officials have called for patience while the investigation is ongoing. A vigil for Perkins was held outside Decatur City Hall, with hundreds of people in attendance.