DECATUR COUNCILMAN’S CALL FOR JUSTICE ECHOED BY COMMUNITY IN WAKE OF FATAL SHOOTING

Special reporting and photos by Canderiah Smothers, Speakin’ Out News

Protesters stand in front of the Morgan County Courthouse in downtown Decatur,Ala., in protest of the killing of Stephen Perkins. Hundreds, from near and far, have marched through downtown to protest the death of 39-year-old Perkins, a gym enthusiast shot by police his front yard in the middle of the night on Sept. 29. (photo submitted by Veronda Sales)
In the aftermath of the tragic officer-involved shooting that claimed the life of Stephen Clay Perkins, Decatur City Councilman Billy Jackson has called for justice and accountability. The incident, which occurred on September 29, has sparked community outrage and renewed discussions on police procedures.(WHNT-TV photo credit)

DECATUR, ALABAMA- The death of Stephen Clay Perkins in an officer-involved shooting on September 29 has ignited a firestorm of demands for justice and accountability. City Councilman Billy Jackson’s call for reform has resonated with the community, revealing a stark division among city leaders in response to the incident.

Councilman’s Demands Gain Traction.

During Monday night’s city council work session, Councilman Billy Jackson emerged as a prominent voice, expressing dissatisfaction with the police department’s handling of the situation. In a powerful statement, Jackson urged a thorough examination of existing policies and procedures that allowed officers to engage without proper notification.

“It’s important that we look at the policies and procedures that were in place that allowed our officers to be there, that allowed our officers to not ring a doorbell, to not have their lights on, to not make Mr. Perkins aware that they were actually police officers,” Jackson emphasized.

CALLS FOR LEADERSHIP CHANGE

Going beyond scrutiny of procedures, Councilman Jackson demanded the resignation or termination of Decatur Police Chief Todd Pinion and the immediate removal and arrest of the involved officers. He assert- ed that systemic changes were necessary within the police department.

“It is my opinion that there needs to be changes made in our police department, and I think it starts not only with the officers who were involved with the incident itself, but with our Chief and any supervisors who might’ve allowed this to go on,” Jackson declared.

MIXED RESPONSES FROM CITY LEADERS

In contrast to Jackson’s strong stance, Councilman Carlson McMasters took a more cautious approach, emphasizing the need for a comprehensive examination of all available facts and evidence before advo- cating for the chief’s resignation.

The divergent responses among city leaders highlight the complexity of addressing the aftermath of the fatal shooting and the potential impact on the community’s trust in law enforcement.

DISCREPANCIES IN NARRATIVES

The incident, triggered by a tow truck driver’s attempt to repossess Perkins’ vehicle, has generated conflict- ing narratives. The police allege that Perkins posed a threat, prompting lethal force. However, security camera footage released by the Perkins family contradicts this account, suggesting Perkins was unaware of the officers’ presence.

Attorney Lee Merritt, representing the Perkins family, asserted on Instagram, “Steve was committing no crime. Officers surrounding Steven in his front yard fired over a dozen rounds striking him seven times— killing him. They later discovered the attempted repossession was a mistake.”

COMMUNITY OUTCRY AND ONGOING PROTESTS

Citizens, expressing frustration during the city council meeting, called for transparency, accountability, and decisive actions in response to the incident. Ongoing protests have become a visible expression of the community’s demand for justice.

Decatur Mayor Tab Bowling, while acknowledging the need for answers, cited the ongoing state police investigation as a reason for limited public information.

Decatur Community Activist Terrance Baker, founder of S.T.I.F.F. said, “Our community is broken, hurt, and disgusted with how our city government answers to the unjust murder of a husband, father, brother, friend, cousin, uncle, and grandson. The Decatur Police Department was quick to report that Steve was not compliant and brandished a weapon toward officers; when the neighbor released the camera, that showed that he never had a chance to comply or wasn’t even notified that they were the police and their statement was not the truth, they have yet to recant their statement and charge the officers with murder. instead, one is on paid leave. The other two are still serving the community daily. We want an arrest, termination, and a prosecution.”

STATEMENTS REFLECTING THE PAIN AND HOPE FOR JUSTICE

In the aftermath of the tragic officer-involved shooting that claimed the life of Stephen Clay Perkins, the Perkins family and community leaders are grappling with grief, seeking answers, and advocating for justice. Here are statements from key figures expressing their emotions, opinions, and hopes during this chal- lenging time:

Catrela Perkins (Wife of Victim)

I am overjoyed with the love and support from everyone near and far. This isn’t easy, but the love and support sure does help me day to day.

Nick Perkins (Brother of Victim)

The direction of the case, in my opinion, is still up in arms. Multiple investigations are being performed, which leads us (the family) still at a loss for answers that we are desperately trying to retrieve. Monday night’s city council meeting, however, did reveal a key factor for the case. Some, it seems, of our elected city officials have a heart and actually do stand for what is right. That, in itself, is a step in the right direction. The Perkins Family has experienced every emotion imaginable because of the unjust tragedy, so has the City of Decatur. The show of support from the citizens of Decatur has been overwhelming, and because of this support along with strength granted to us from God Almighty, we have been able to stand fast with a continuous fight to move forward in achieving Justice for our brother, son, uncle, cousin, his most proud duty as a daddy and husband, STEPHEN CLAY PERKINS!!! WE ARE STEVE PERKINS!

Mrs. Zelma Clay Perkins (The Mother of the Victim)

I will refrain from making a statement about the case because it still feels so surreal; I cannot revisit the thoughts of how my son was taken from me. As far as the community goes, I want to express my deepest and most sincere thanks for the love and support shown to me during this difficult time. I have really felt the support of the “Village.”

Pastor Claudette Owens, CEO and Founder of Fountain of Life in Hartselle, Alabama

As a Mother, Community Leader, and Pastor, I stand behind the Perkins Family 100%. The video evidence provided from multiple ring security cameras that I have seen are pretty clear to me. These officer(s) should be charged and prosecuted.

Pastor Emma White of Redeeming Love Outreach Ministries in Decatur, Alabama

What a terrible tragedy to lose a life so unexpectedly! My heart goes out to the family! JESUS said, Truth will set us free! I’m believing through prayer and supplication that Truth will be revealed and deception exposed! I pray for unity and peace over the City of Decatur!