A Black business owner was attacked by police officers after calling them over a robbery.
According AL.com, the incident happened nearly three months ago on March 15, however, surveillance video of the attack was uploaded to social media over the weekend. The clip shows a cop walk into Star Spirits & Beverages — a liquor store in Decatur, which is located in north Alabama — and almost instantly punch the owner, Kevin Penn.
The 47-year-old owner had dialed the cops to report a robbery at his store. He said that he was holding the suspect at gunpoint.
According to Decatur Police Chief Nate Allen, cops came to investigate the situation and Penn was armed, and they thought he might’ve been the suspect.
At a Monday press conference, Decatur police played body camera footage, in which a cop tells Penn to put his gun down but he doesn’t comply.
However, AL.com says the footage released to news reporters was edited with captions. It was also delayed at some points and didn’t clearly show what occurred that day.
According to Allen, Penn hovered his hand over a gun lying on a counter next to him. The chief said Penn was holding a magazine in his other hand, which cops might have believed was a gun at the time.
Penn’s lawyer, Carl Cole, said Penn showed the gun to cops to make sure they knew he was armed, then he removed the clip and ejected the bullets from the chamber.
With Penn appearing to not put down what cops believed was a gun, one officer immediately punches him in the face as seen in the body camera footage. Then the other cops tackle him to the ground. Another officer even seems to reach for his gun for a second before his comrade throws the blow.
The officer who threw the punch was put on desk duty pending an internal investigation. His name has not been released. Cops are still investigating the incident, nearly three months after it happened. Part of the graphic surveillance footage can be watched below.
Allen went on to say that because many cases involving an armed suspect end with a police shooting, he’s glad that only punch was thrown. “I would much rather have a punch than an officer-involved shooting,” the chief said.
However, Penn faced serious injuries, including a broken jaw and some of his teeth were knocked out, according to Cole. Penn had to undergo several weeks of treatment, including having his mouth wired shut, according to Cole.
Penn was even hit with a misdemeanor charge of obstructing government operations with the cops accusing him of obstructing their investigation of the robbery, say court records.
Cops say that the incident ended up being shoplifting at Penn’s store. The suspected shoplifter appeared to lie on the ground inside the store, according to body camera footage. Cops say a shoplifting suspect was apprehended that day, but they haven’t released the name of the person or announced charges.
Cole said Penn will make a public statement in the next couple of days. So far, he’s filed an internal affairs complaint with the police department and he submitted surveillance video from his store, according to Cole. The city has yet to respond to his request for updates on the status of the investigation.
As of this week, Allen said he doesn’t know when the ongoing investigation will be wrapped.