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Appeal hearings delayed for officers disciplined after Perkins’ death

In World
January 26, 2024

Jan. 26—In response to a joint petition by the officers’ attorneys, the Personnel Board on Thursday delayed the appeal hearings for the Decatur police officers involved in the Sept. 29 shooting death of Steve Perkins.

The Personnel Board voted 2-1 to delay for as long as six months the hearings of Sgt. Vance Summers and officers Joey Williams, Christopher Mukaddam and Mac Marquette.

Mayor Tab Bowling in November fired three of the officers and suspended another. The officers then appealed, and the board previously scheduled the hearings for Jan. 30 through Feb. 2.

A grand jury on Jan. 4 indicted Marquette for murder. Representing Williams, Mukaddam and Marquette, attorney Bill Chandler, of Albertville, wrote a joint letter with David Mattson, of Birmingham, who is representing Summers, urging the Personnel Board to delay the hearings, said Human Resources Director Richelle Sandlin.

A local state law established the Personnel Board and sets the procedure for disciplinary actions against Decatur city employees. Police Chief Todd Pinion conducted an internal investigation, held a predetermination hearing for each officer and found they had violated Police Department policies.

Bowling held a determination hearing for each officer during the week of Dec. 4. He decided to terminate three officers and suspend one for 10 days. The city refuses to say which officers lost their jobs and which one received the unpaid suspension.

The officers’ punishments will remain in place pending the hearing. A Personnel Board press release says the board must be notified in writing by the end of day on July 24 “of the parties’ intent to pursue the appeal process or the board will consider the matter closed.”

Bowling’s decision would then stand, according to the motion made by board member Pam Werstler’s and approved in a split vote by the board.

Personnel Board chairman Harold Gilmore would not comment beyond saying he supports the reasons given by the attorneys in the joint letter for the delay. He would not say what those reasons are. The Decatur Daily submitted a public records request to the board seeking the letter.

Werstler and fellow board member Darius Crayton voted for the resolution.

Board member Suzie Wiley said, “No comment,” when asked why she voted against the delay.

Bowling said Thursday after the meeting that he was ready to testify at the appeal hearings, “but the officers have rights as we saw in the vote that took place.”

After months of demonstrations in the city by Perkins supporters, the mayor said he hopes people are understanding of the Personnel Board’s decision to delay the hearings “because the people who voted to allow the stay on the appeals hearings are residents of the city. They’re not part of the city government.”

The three terminated officers are no longer considered employees of the city. However, they would be reinstated and receive backpay for the time missed if the Personnel Board upholds their appeals.

Marquette is charged with firing the shots that killed Perkins on Sept. 29.

According to Decatur police, the incident leading to Steve Perkins’ death began when a tow truck driver attempted to repossess his truck, which was parked in his Ryan Drive Southwest driveway, at about 1:30 a.m. Police said Perkins threatened the driver with a gun, and the driver left and called police.

Police then returned with the driver to Perkins’ home.

Perkins exited his home at about 1:50 a.m. and told the tow truck driver to put down his truck, all of which was captured by neighbors’ security videos. The videos show he was carrying a flashlight, which the Alabama Law Enforcement Agency said was mounted to a handgun.

Two police officers were around the corner of his house and left cover as Perkins was yelling at the tow truck driver. Security videos show that Perkins turned toward them as they for the first time identified themselves. Within two seconds, the officer fired the first of about 18 shots. According to the family, seven hit Perkins.

He died soon thereafter at Huntsville Hospital.

[email protected] or 256-340-2432. Twitter @DD_BayneHughes.

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