DECATUR, Ala. (AP) — An attorney representing the family of a Black man who was fatally shot at his home by police said Friday that officers did not give the man time to respond before they opened fire.
Steve Perkins, 39, was killed by police Sept. 29 in Decatur in a confrontation that began with a tow truck driver trying to repossess Perkins’ truck. The driver reported that Perkins flashed a gun, so officers accompanied the driver when he went back to the home, police said.
The Decatur Police Department said 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.
Lee Merritt, an attorney representing the Perkins family, said video from neighbors’ home security systems indicates that officers accompanied the tow truck driver onto the property but did not announce themselves and opened fire within a second of telling Perkins to get on the ground. Perkins did not appear aware of their presence, Merritt said.
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In the home surveillance camera video, published by WAFF, an officer is heard shouting “police, get on the ground” and shots are then immediately fired in rapid succession.
“They jumped up. They shouted. … Pow,” Merritt told The Associated Press.
“The policy of not announcing yourself and creeping up into people’s 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.
In a statement, Perkins’ family said his truck was not in repossession, which is why he was disputing the tow.
The Alabama Law Enforcement Agency, which is investigating, said Friday that it did not have any additional information to release to the public. It opened a tip line for information.
City and state officials asked for patience during the investigation, which the ALEA vowed would be “very thorough and methodical.” The agency said the findings will be turned over to the Morgan County District Attorney’s Office.
Protests have occurred daily in the north Alabama city since Perkins was killed.
“The thing that has been consistent is looking for answers. We understand that. That is something everyone wants and they want answers now. Unfortunately, we don’t have control of that,” Decatur Mayor Tab Bowling told news outlets.
Hundreds of people gathered outside of Decatur City Hall on Thursday night in a vigil for Perkins.
“Not only was I his brother, but I was his friend. You have no idea how it feels to be born a protector, and the job is taken away from you, unjustly, and unwarranted,” Nicholas Perkins said during the vigil, according to WAFF.