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Decatur police body cam shows moments before officer punched business owner

Decatur police addressed a video surfacing online showing a business owner being punched by an officer.

Posted: Jun 8, 2020 9:34 PM
Updated: Jun 9, 2020 9:20 AM

A video posted on social media over the weekend shows a man being punched in the face by one Decatur police officer and pinned to the ground by others. 

It happened at Star Spirits and Beverages liquor store off Sixth Avenue on March 15. 

The man who was hit was the owner. He called police claiming his business was being robbed. When police showed up, they said he was mistaken for a suspect. 

Decatur Police Chief Nate Allen held a news conference today addressing the entire situation. 

"This case here, it was not an officer-involved shooting, it was a punch," Allen said. "I would much rather have a punch than an officer-involved shooting."

The business owner, Kevin Penn, told WAAY 31 he is not ready to go on camera about this situation, but plans to take legal action. 

During the chief's press conference, he showed body camera video from that night. Police entered the store where Kevin Penn had a shoplifter already on the ground. They were responding to a robbery call, but police say it was an incident of shoplifting. 

As police approach Penn, Allen said the officers mistook him for the suspect. The officers asked Allen if he had a gun. He responded, "My gun is there. My gun is here. I'm not going to put down if you have guns, too."

Penn argues with police about his gun. At this time, he is holding a gun magazine, while the gun was on the counter. 

"He said I'm not going to put the gun down and that gives an impression to the officer that he has a gun in his hand," Allen said. 

An officer then punches Penn in the face. Two others help pin him down. 

"Our procedure is to use the least amount of force to get the job done," Allen said. 

Allen adds when a gun is involved, it can potentially be a life or death sitaution. He said right now more than ever, he wants to remain transparent with the public. 

"Because of the things going on, the protest, the lack of trust the community has going on, especially communities of color, the lack of trust they have with police departments, we just want to ensure that we are here to serve all communities here," Allen said. 

This is an ongoing investigation. WAAY 31 reached out to Kevin Penn's attorney and is waiting to hear back. 

The three officers involved are still with the department. The officer who punched Penn in the face is on administrative duties for now. 

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