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City Council meeting heats up as community members push for answers in shooting that killed Stephen Perkins

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DECATUR, Ala. (WHNT) – It was a packed house at the Decatur City Council meeting Monday.

Once the agenda items were completed, the council opened the session for public comment. About 15 people signed up to read statements and ask questions of the council regarding the death of Stephen Perkins in an officer-involved shooting in September.

“Why, every time we come to these meetings, you don’t give us anything,” Teairra Bolden said. “I know you’re limited, but give us something, some kind of care, something you care a little about. Not all the answers are ‘let’s find out’, we’re traumatized.”

“Not just one family, the town is traumatized,” Bolden said. “We need dates so you can get information and give us something so we can sleep at night again, we don’t sleep at night.”

Some community members say they don’t need to see the police camera during the incident because of security camera video provided by neighbors. However, others are pushing for it to be returned, at the very least, to the Perkins family.

“It’s taking this long to show the body camera,” one man said. “It’s either you’re lying or you’re hiding something, that’s what they think.”

Sheree Head, cousin of Stephen Perkins, said her family was not informed of the shooting by Decatur police.

“I left the hospital in Huntsville with my aunt, not knowing anything about what happened to her son,” she said. “Coming home, we are still trying to understand what happened to his son. I must have read it on a Facebook post. No one from the police department even called to say, “There was an incident at your house. »

Head questioned policies in place within the department for notifying family members after a shooting.

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 a man asked a question directed at Mayor Bowling.

“Does the police department have a community relations council, yes or no? the man said. Mayor Bowling interrupted the man by saying, “Ask any questions you have and then we’ll answer them.” »

Mayor Bowling went on to say, “The tail doesn’t wag the dog here, ask any questions you have. »

According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, this expression is used to “describe a situation in which a person, organization, etc. important or powerful is controlled by someone or something that is much less important or powerful.”

This statement did not go down well with the audience present at the meeting. The man speaking at the podium said: “Tab, this really shows your character, if I were you or the leader I would resign. »

Later, Mayor Bowling said that evidence such as police body camera video was currently in the possession of the Alabama Law Enforcement Agency (ALEA) and that Decatur could not pursue an internal investigation until the ALEA had not completed its investigation.

“We don’t have that information yet to be able to do that part of the investigation,” Bowling said. “That’s the way it works, we can’t… there’s nothing you can do and come here and say this is going to change that.”

Council President Jacob Ladner said during the meeting that he spoke with state officials in Montgomery to try to urge ALEA to prioritize the investigation.

In an interview with News 19, Ladner said, “We kind of put them (ALEA) on notice that we, as city representatives, want this thing to happen as quickly as possible. »

Police Chief Todd Pinion was present at Monday’s meeting, but made no comment.

News 19 spoke briefly with the chief after the meeting. We asked Pinion if he would make any further comments or statements on camera and he declined “for the time being.”

During the meeting, several community members said how upset they were that the chief did not call a press conference or make a video statement after admitting “inaccuracies” in the original press release on the incident.

Many community members at the meeting said they will not stop showing up to city hall and meetings until justice is served for Stephen Perkins. Another protest is planned for Wednesday evening in front of Decatur City Hall. According to a Facebook event organized 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.


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