- Surveillance footage captured the moment a tow truck driver made off with a dying father’s vehicle as he lay outside his home after being fatally shot
- Stephen Perkins, 39, was gunned down by cops from Decatur Alabama Police Department outside his home in September
- An attorney has also said the actions of the tow truck driver were illegal and he should have stood down his attempt to repossess the vehicle
This is the appalling moment an Alabama repossession firm seizes a black father’s truck as he lays dying on the street just feet away after being shot by cops.
Stephen Perkins, 39, was gunned down by cops from Decatur Police Department outside his home on September 29 in Decatur, Alabama.
Police have said that a tow truck driver had attempted to repossess Perkins pickup when it is alleged Perkins pulled a gun on him, causing the driver to call 911.
Surveillance cameras captured the moment Perkins was gunned down by responding officers, who fired eighteen shots at him. Appallingly, a driver from Allstar Recovery drives off with the dying man’s truck as he takes his final breaths just feet away, with his final words said to have been ‘help.’
That newly-released footage – first shared by Decatur Daily – has triggered outrage in the Alabama city, with both the repossession firm and police department blamed for what activists say was Perkins’ needless death.
Officers can be seen standing over the body of Perkins in his front lawn after gunning him down, with the tow driver nonchalantly making off with Perkins’ white GMC Sierra. Further fanning the flames of outrage is Decatur Police’s admission that they got a crucial early piece of information wrong.
They claimed Perkins had been told to drop a gun he’d been holding but that he’d refused to do so.
Chief Todd Pinion later said Perkins had been ordered to ‘get on the ground’ by officers who’d identified themselves as police.
The change of story has led locals to question whether the police department has also gotten other crucial details wrong.
After the shooting, the officers appear to pat Perkins down, with one officer moving from Perkins’ right side over to Perkins’ legs.
Out of sight, an unidentified repossession officer has hooked the GMC to their truck and begins to tow it away.
As the officers continue, the headlights from the tow truck begin moving at the 30-second mark.
The vehicle turns left out of Perkin’s driveway with Perkins’ pickup truck following it.
It is unclear who was driving the truck, but Decatur Daily reported that Allstar Recovery is owned by Shannon Gay.
A similarly-named local business – All Star Towing & Recovery – has received abuse over Perkins’ death, but had nothing to do with the incident.
One of the homes directly across from where Perkins lived with his young family also captured the moment he was fatally shot.
Perkins can be heard shouting: ‘Hey, put my truck down’, before police officers rush out from cover with their weapons drawn.
One of them yells at him: ‘Hey, hey! Police! Get on the ground!’ as the officers unleash a volley of bullets on him.
Before the officer even finishes, police began unloading eighteen shots towards Perkins.
Attorney Carl Cole told WAAY 31 last month that the truck driver should never have returned to Perkins’ home with the police.
Cole added that police are not allowed to be involved in a car repossession unless there is a court order involved – and he alleges that there was none.
Perkins’ family also says there’s no indication he’d even fallen behind on payments for the GMC truck, which is why he’d tried to stop it from being taken away.
Cole told the outlet: ‘One, the tow truck driver is supposed to stand down if there’s any sort of breach of the peace. ‘
Cole continued: ‘He should have never gone back out there. And second, police are not supposed to be involved in a repossession absent of a court order.’
If there is any breach of peace during a car repossession, under Alabama law that repossession is over.
Cole added: ‘What I can say is this: they never should have gotten that far, much less towed his car away that night as he’s lying in his yard.
‘You know I can’t imagine a greater insult to injury than that happening at that time especially considering what Alabama law says regarding: we’re not supposed to go further than this if there’s a breach of the peace.
‘Not only did they go further with it, he’s lying in his yard while it’s happening, that’s really problematic. ‘
Perkins’ family say no crime scene was set up after his death and that the only marker of what had happened was a pool of the late father’s blood.
Neighbor Susan Capps, 62, told Decatur Daily that she did not see cops rendering first aid and that they instead appeared to be patting Perkins down as he lay dying.
She also claims that a cop who came to her door lied and said everyone involved in the shooting was fine.
The killing of Perkins has sparked fury in the town, with the local police department coming under intense scrutiny over his death and the action of officers.
They have not been named.
Police Chief Todd Pinion apologized last month after the department gave a false description of the officers’ commands in the PD’s ‘initial rush to release information’.
The department inaccurately said officers ordered Perkins to drop his weapon and that he refused to do so.
Pinion said what actually happened is the officers identified themselves as ‘police’ and ordered Perkins to ‘get on the ground.’
He wrote: ‘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.’
Pinion promised ‘transparency in providing any information we are able to share as soon as it is able to be released.’
He added: ‘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.’
On Thursday, the Decatur Police Department confirmed that an internal investigation into the death of Perkins had been completed.
Chief Pinion said: ‘Today, our department’s internal investigation into this case was completed. That investigation addresses potential policy violations only.
‘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.’
As a result of the police response, protests had been happening daily in the north city, with hundreds of people gathering outside of Decatur City Hall.
‘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 previously told news outlets.
A fundraiser was launched to help the family of Perkins, who had described him as a ‘devoted husband, gym enthusiast, and a hardworking man’.
Since being launched, the fundraiser has managed to bring in over $72,000 for his family.
Perkins’ family had previously said that his truck was not in repossession, which is why he was disputing the tow.
Rodney Gordon, president of the Morgan County branch of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), said video from the night of his death shows police weren’t following the right procedures.
He told the Decatur Daily: ‘If you knock on the door as a police officer, we don’t ever have this conversation. If you pull up to the house with the lights on, I don’t come outside with a gun.
‘If you come knock on my door and identify yourself as a police officer, I don’t come to the door with a gun.
‘This whole thing could have been totally avoided. According to the film — and it ain’t lying — it was an ambush.’