Decatur business owner sues city; claiming excessive police force

Published: Mar. 18, 2022 at 9:09 PM CDT
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

DECATUR, Ala. (WAFF) - A punch in the face and a broken jaw.

The incident happened during an attempted shoplifting in 2020.
The incident happened during an attempted shoplifting in 2020.(WAFF)

Now, two years later and a Decatur man says he’s still dealing with the effects of an encounter with Decatur police and wants the city to be held accountable.

WAFF reported on the liquor store owner who called the police on a shoplifter in 2020. Now, that business owner is suing the city and the officer who threw the punch after the incident occurred at Star Spirits and Beverages on Sixth Avenue in Decatur two years ago.

“It shows very clearly that he had a magazine in his hand. It shows very clearly that he was reloading the magazine,” said Former Decatur Police Chief Nate Allen.

Allen says when officers arrived at the scene, they thought the store owner Kevin Penn was the thief. However, the lawsuit recently filed by Penn alleges the officers knew exactly who he was.

In the lawsuit, Penn says he was holding the thief at gunpoint until officers could arrive on the scene. It also claims, Officer Justin Rippen threw the punch after the thief was in custody and the gun was out of Penn’s hand. The lawsuit states the punch broke Penn’s jaw and knocked out a tooth.

It also accuses the city and the department of not holding officers accountable for misconduct.

It says, “the City regularly receives complaints concerning officers who, as Rippen did here, react with unjustifiable violence and false charges when a citizen speaks up or otherwise asserts his rights as an American citizen.”

A city spokesperson was unable to provide a comment Friday on these accusations. After the punch, Rippen arrested Penn and charged him with obstructing governmental operations. Penn claims there was no probable cause for the arrest.

Those charges have not been dropped, according to Penn’s attorney. He is now seeking damages from the city for what he calls the emotional and physical pain he has endured.

Copyright 2022 WAFF. All rights reserved.