Decatur mayor speaks out following lawyer’s call for action after officer-involved shooting

Decatur Police shot and killed Stephen Perkins a week ago today in his front yard.
Published: Oct. 6, 2023 at 8:27 AM CDT
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DECATUR, Ala. (WAFF) - Large crowds continue to gather in Decatur, demanding action and answers from city leaders.

This all comes after Decatur Police shot and killed Stephen Perkins a week ago today in his front yard. Police officials say Perkins pointed a gun at them, but his family says he only had a flashlight.

The Perkins family attorney, Lee Merritt says he hasn’t seen crowds like this since George Floyd was killed three years ago in Minneapolis.

Police say Perkins threatened a tow truck driver with a gun as the driver was trying to repossess his truck before police got to his house Friday morning.

Civil rights attorney, Lee Merritt was at the rally Thursday night and says this fight for justice is far from over. “If you don’t get into these streets, that means you consent. If you don’t burn something down, that must mean that you consent,” Merritt said. “The people of Decatur must demonstrate that we do not consent to the murder of Stephen Perkins!”

WAFF 48 News also heard exclusively from Mayor Tab Bowling of Decatur.

While Bowling says city leaders’ hearts, grief and sorrow go out to the Perkins family, he had a different reaction to Merritt’s call for action. An attorney who Bowling says doesn’t live in Decatur.

”It’s charging the residents with bringing harm to the city by burning it down, and if you don’t burn it down, then you’re giving consent to what happened to Steve is okay. And then he’s going to leave. He’s going to be gone because this isn’t his home,” Bowling said. “He’ll go to the next place where there’s money and opportunity for him.”

As for where community members go from here while they wait for answers, Bowling says to trust the process.

“Bringing more violence to the area isn’t going to improve things. We’re going to get justice,” Bowling said. “We just need to give it a little time.”

WAFF 48 News understands people will gather again at Decatur City Hall Friday night.

A Celebration of Life for Stephen Perkins is set for 11:00 a.m. Saturday at Wheeler Chapel Church in Courtland.

The Alabama Law Enforcement Agency’s State Bureau of Investigation has opened a confidential tip line and has asked that anyone with any information to call 1-800-392-8011 or email at

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