Critical Incident Investigation Updates

December 7, 2023 – Message from Chief Todd Pinion

The Mayor has announced his decision that three officers have been terminated and one has been suspended following the determination hearing into officers’ actions leading up to the death of Steven Perkins and in the moments after.

As I previously shared, I found in the predetermination hearing that the officers violated policy, however, under Alabama law, only the Mayor can make the decision to issue discipline of this magnitude. Any of the officers disciplined have the right to appeal the Mayor’s decision to the Personnel Board.

I accompanied the Mayor when he visited Mr. Perkins’ family to share the news of his determination. I have expressed my sorrow personally to the family of Mr. Perkins as well as publicly in prior messages, but I reiterate that sentiment here.

While the Mayor’s decision brings resolution to one portion of the investigation into what occurred, an active criminal investigation by the Alabama Law Enforcement Agency continues. That investigation is independent of the now-concluded Decatur Police Department Administrative investigation. As I have said from the earliest days, we will accept whatever decision results from that process.

This incident has left grief for many, beginning with the family and friends of Mr. Perkins and extending to our community and beyond, as well as within our police department. I have pledged to take action to ensure something like this never happens in Decatur again, and that process has begun in earnest. It includes reviewing policies and procedures to implement change where needed, additional training, revitalizing our Citizen Advisory Board, and creating a critical incident page on our website to provide an additional avenue to keep the community informed when a critical incident takes place. We will also be implementing measures to provide for increased officer health and mental wellness, to include budgeting for yearly mental health checkups.

While there have been those who have come from outside of Decatur to exercise their 1st Amendment rights, my concern is foremost with those who call Decatur home. With a wide spectrum of feelings among members of our community, I want to reassure you that the Decatur Police Department serves each and every one of you. While it is my hope that you do not judge any organization by one incident, no matter how painful, I promise that we will be doing everything humanly possible to earn the benefit of your trust moving forward.


November 17, 2023 – Message from Chief Todd Pinion

The internal investigation by the Decatur Police Department’s Office of Professional Standards into the death of Stephen Perkins is complete. On Thursday, I met with the involved officers concerning the report, reviewed the findings, and gave them an opportunity to be heard before I made any decision. I found reason to believe that policies were violated and the final report and findings were sent to the Legal Department and outside counsel late this afternoon to prepare the formal documents to move forward the discipline process.

Under our merit system rules, a chief of police cannot issue discipline beyond written reprimands and it is my professional opinion that such discipline is warranted. The Mayor will conduct a review and make a final determination if discipline is warranted and to what extent.

The officer who fired his weapon remains on paid administrative leave. As a matter of policy, officers who are placed on administrative leave continue to be paid while due process takes place. The other two officers who were on-duty at the time of the shooting and the involved supervisor remain on-duty but on administrative assignments.

Additionally, I have made the determination that while the Decatur Police Department policies and procedures are accredited through the Commission on Accreditation for Law Enforcement Agencies (CALEA), we will be conducting a review of all policies and updating or adding policies that could help reduce the likelihood of something like this ever happening again.

I also want to address reports in the media about Mr. Perkins’ vehicle being repossessed by the recovery company shortly after Mr. Perkins was shot. This is true, and while no policy exists for every potential situation a police department may encounter, I fully understand why the officers’ decision to allow this to occur caused additional hurt to Mr. Perkins’ family and our community. I am sorry for the additional pain caused and pledge we are working to address the culture of our police department to ensure compassion remains at the top of our core values.

I would like to remind the public that the Decatur Police Department’s administrative investigation and any outcome pertain to the violation of department policy only. The Alabama Law Enforcement Agency is conducting a separate criminal investigation to determine if there were any violations of Alabama law.

Finally, my thoughts remain with the family and friends of Mr. Perkins and all those in our community and beyond impacted by his death. This has been a very painful chapter for Decatur and I recognize healing will not occur for many until after all information that can be released has been made public and all determinations on violation of policy and state law completed and potential litigation resolved. As I have stated before, while the Decatur Police Department is not in control of when information pertaining to the criminal investigation will be released, I remain committed to encouraging it be shared as soon as feasible. The City of Decatur will continue to share any new information that is able to be shared as it becomes available.


November 9, 2023 – Message from Chief Todd Pinion

My thoughts remain with the family and friends of Steve Perkins and all who have been impacted by his death. As the processes of the Decatur Police Department’s internal investigation and Alabama Law Enforcement Agency’s criminal investigation unfold, I recognize the pace of this process may be frustrating to many who are waiting for answers.

Today, our department’s internal investigation into this case was completed. That investigation addresses potential policy violations only. I will soon hold a predetermination hearing to review the internal investigation report and its findings.

Federal law and the Constitution of Alabama ensure due process for public sector employees. It is also important to note under Alabama law, a chief of police cannot issue formal discipline regarding his or her officers, which differs from some other state laws.

If I find department policy was violated and discipline is warranted, this would be presented to the Office of the Mayor for a determination hearing. At that hearing, the Mayor would hear the facts of the case and decide if discipline is warranted and to what extent. The Mayor would then decide how and when to release that information to the public. Any decision by the Mayor could be appealed to the Personnel Board by any officer receiving discipline.

I will share the results of my predetermination hearing with you once it has been completed. I anticipate that could occur within the coming week. While the Decatur Police Department is not in control of when information pertaining to the Alabama Law Enforcement Agency’s criminal investigation will be released, I remain committed to encouraging it be shared as soon as feasible. The City of Decatur and our police department remain committed to sharing any significant updates in this case as they become available.


October 23, 2023 – Hudson Memorial Bridge Protest

On October 19th, 2023, a group of people who were protesting the recent officer involved shooting death of Steven Perkins stopped both southbound lanes of traffic atop the Hudson Memorial Bridge in Decatur. This intentional obstruction of traffic not only backed up traffic for several miles, it also created a hazardous situation for motorist and emergency vehicles attempting to cross the bridge in order to come into and through Decatur.

During the course of the recent protests the Decatur Police Department has made a specific effort to give protestors the space necessary to exercise their constitutional rights without interference.  There have been situations where it was necessary to make arrests to ensure the safety of both the protestors and those citizens and motorists who are not involved.

As we have previously stated publicly, we will continue to enforce the law and arrests should be expected when certain actions of violators include vandalism, violence or impeding roadways that could impact providing basic public safety services to the rest of the community.

As a result of the traffic blockage on the bridge on October 19th, numerous individuals have been positively identified and arrest warrants have been obtained on those persons charging them with Disorderly Conduct.  We are in the process of attempting to notify those individuals so arrangements can be made for them to turn themselves in if they choose to do so.

All individuals are presumed innocent until proven guilty in a court of law.

Alabama Criminal Code § 13A-11-7; Disorderly Conduct

(a) A person commits the crime of disorderly conduct if, with intent to cause public inconvenience, annoyance or alarm, or recklessly creating a risk thereof, he or she does any of the following:

(1) Engages in fighting or in violent tumultuous or threatening behavior.

(2) Makes unreasonable noise.

(3) In a public place uses abusive or obscene language or makes an obscene gesture.

(4) Without lawful authority, disturbs any lawful assembly or meeting of persons.

(5) Obstructs vehicular or pedestrian traffic, or a transportation facility.

(6) Congregates with other person in a public place and refuses to comply with a lawful order of law enforcement to disperse.

(b) Disorderly conduct is a Class C misdemeanor


October 11, 2023 – Message from Chief Todd Pinion

There is understandably much public conversation about the shooting of Stephen Perkins. Any time a police officer uses deadly force, questions should be asked, and answers provided.

There are two separate investigations underway right now to provide those answers. First, the Alabama Law Enforcement Agency (ALEA) is conducting a criminal investigation to determine the facts of what occurred. ALEA will present those findings to the Morgan County District Attorney’s Office who will make a determination if any violations of Alabama law occurred. A grand jury made up of Morgan County residents will decide if any criminal charges are appropriate.

Second, the Decatur Police Department’s Office of Professional Standards is conducting an investigation into what led up to the shooting, the use of force itself, and officers’ actions afterwards to determine if there were any violations of department policy. After that investigation, we will also determine if any current policies need to be revised or new ones implemented. As has been the case for some time, our policies are publicly available on our website.

ALEA’s investigation takes priority. There are certain investigative steps in our internal investigation which can only occur after specific parts in ALEA’s investigation. Investigations take time to complete, but I pledge transparency in providing any information we are able to share as soon as it is able to be released. At this time, Alabama law prohibits me from sharing information about any evidence in the incident or releasing any body-worn camera video. I look forward to the time when we have the full picture of what occurred and we are able to share that with you, no matter the outcome of both investigations.

I also want to share that in our initial rush to release information to the public on the morning of September 29, we provided inaccurate information about the interaction between Mr. Perkins and the officer. Our news release and social media post indicated the officer ordered Mr. Stephen Perkins to drop his weapon before shooting. We now know the officer identified themselves as “police” and ordered Mr. Perkins to “get on the ground” prior to the officer firing rather than ordering him to drop the weapon at that time as we initially reported the morning of the shooting. That means that we also erred in stating Mr. Perkins “refused” to drop his firearm prior to the shooting. I apologize for the inaccurate description of the encounter in our initial statement, and we have already taken steps to improve our public information sharing process.

Finally, we welcome the exercising of 1st Amendment rights and are happy to have facilitated prior protests without any arrests. However, during protests over the weekend, we made nine arrests for Disorderly Conduct – both for obstructing traffic on main roadways as well as Disorderly Conduct Language in Public. While we would rather have had no arrests, we will make arrests when actions include violence or impeding roadways that could impact providing basic public safety services to the rest of the community.


October 2, 2023 – Message from Chief Todd Pinion

There has been much discussion over the weekend concerning the incident that occurred early Friday morning resulting in the unfortunate death of Stephen Perkins. As soon as I learned that there had been a shooting involving a Decatur Police Officer I immediately contacted the Alabama Law Enforcement Agency and asked them to conduct the investigation per department protocol.

There has been discussion publicly concerning demands to have the DPD release body cam video of the incident. Legislation enacted earlier this year, governs the release of body camera footage. Pursuant to that legislation, the “Custodial Law Enforcement Agency” is the entity to decide when, how, and what to disclose.  Because ALEA is conducting the investigation, they are the Custodial Law Enforcement Agency and they maintain all evidence in the case to include body camera videos.

It would be improper and irresponsible for me to comment on the evidence in this case and cannot legally release any evidence in the case. At the conclusion of the investigation, ALEA and the Morgan County District Attorney’s office will determine if the case will be presented to a grand jury for consideration. Until that process has concluded, we cannot comment on the investigation.

I recognize that many people in the community, both family and friends, are mourning the loss of Mr. Perkins.  There was a peaceful demonstration at city hall yesterday and I completely respect the public’s right to peacefully protest. Please understand that I am in a difficult position of trying to juggle the public’s demands for transparency and adhering to the rules of criminal procedure while not jeopardizing the integrity of the investigation.

I have full confidence in the Alabama Law Enforcement Agency to conduct a thorough and impartial investigation and will respect their findings when their investigation is complete. I ask for your patience until the investigative process is completed.


September 29, 2023 – Officer-Involved Shooting

On September 29, 2023 at approximately 1:30 a.m., Officers with the Decatur Police Department were dispatched to a local towing company in reference to a man with a gun call.

Officers arrived on scene and made contact with a tow truck driver who had attempted to repossess a vehicle from the 3900 block of Ryan Drive SW. During the initial interaction, the homeowner pulled a handgun on the tow truck driver, who fled the scene.

Officers made their way to the residence, along with the tow truck driver. The homeowner exited the residence armed with a handgun and began to threaten the tow truck driver. Officers on scene ordered the homeowner to drop his weapon, which he refused to do. It was at this time the homeowner turned the gun towards one of the Officers on scene. The Officer discharged his duty weapon, striking the subject.

After the shots were fired, Officers on scene called for medical assistance and began to render first aid until their arrival. The subject was transported to Huntsville Hospital where he succumbed to his injuries.

No Officers were injured during the incident.

Per Decatur Police Department policy, the Officer will be placed on administrative leave. The Alabama Law Enforcement Agency (ALEA) was notified and responded to the scene. They have taken over the investigation and any questions regarding the investigation should be directed to ALEA.