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Alabama police chief apologies for inaccurate information in fatal shooting


DECATUR, Ala. (AP) — A police chief in Alabama has apologized for his department giving "inaccurate information" about what was said before officers shot and killed a homeowner during a dispute with a tow truck driver.

Decatur Police Chief Todd Pinion wrote in a statement Wednesday that the department gave an inaccurate description of officers' commands in “our initial rush to release information” about the Sept. 29 shooting of Steve Perkins. 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.”

“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 wrote.

Perkins, 39, was killed by police in front of his home 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 where Perkins was shot and killed by officers.

Video from a neighbor's home surveillance camera video, published by WAFF, captured the shooting. An officer is heard shouting “police, get on the ground” and shots are then immediately fired in rapid succession. Police have not released body camera footage of the shooting.

Lee Merritt, an attorney representing the Perkins family, said last week that officers did not announce their presence when they arrived on the property and opened fire within a second of telling Perkins to get on the ground. He said Perkins did not appear aware of their presence. The family has asked for charges to be filed against the officers.

Perkins’ family issued a statement saying that the truck payments were up to date so the truck shouldn't have been towed.

There have been daily protests in the north Alabama city following Perkins’ death. The Alabama Law Enforcement Agency is investigating the shooting. Pinion said the department is doing its own internal 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.”

In the statement, Pinion promised “transparency in providing any information we are able to share as soon as it is able to be released.”

“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,” Pinion wrote.

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