Decatur police address video of officers punching man

Updated: Jun. 8, 2020 at 10:27 PM CDT
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DECATUR, Ala. (WAFF) - A video circulating on social media has put the Decatur Police Department in the spotlight.

The video shows an incident from March at Star Spirits & Beverages on 6th Avenue. It shows officers enter the store, punch a man and wrestle him to the ground.

The man in the video is the business owner, Kevin Penn.

Police have identified the officer punching Penn as Justin Rippen. On June 8th, the day Decatur Police held a news conference to address social media post surrounding the encounter, Rippen was placed on administrative duty.

Penn’s attorney says on March 15, Penn called police because he was being robbed. He said Penn had a firearm when police arrived. According to Penn, the officers punched him when they entered the store, breaking his jaw.

The attorney said Penn was charged with obstruction of government operations because he refused to put down the firearm.

Decatur Police Chief Nate Allen held a press conference Monday afternoon. This included showing body camera footage showing the moments when police first arrived.

According to police, Penn verbally refused until the police put their guns down.

Police say Penn was using his hand to cover another gun on the counter.

Allen says all the officers saw was a gun in a man’s hand so they reacted.

Their body camera video shows a brief struggle with Penn and police.

Allen said the three officers are still employed by the department. Two are patrolling the streets while the man who is seen punching Penn is at a desk job.

Allen said it was a shoplifting rather than a robbery. He said a shoplifting suspect was later apprehended.

Allen says this is an ongoing investigation and is aware Penn intends to sue.

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