HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (WHNT) – Alabama’s repossession law has come into question in the wake of a fatal Decatur officer-involved shooting following an attempted vehicle repossession.
Decatur police say they were called to assist a towing company on September 29, after the tow truck driver reported a man pulled a gun during a repossession.
Authorities say after police showed up the man, later identified as 39-year-old Stephen Perkins, pointed ‘a handgun which was also equipped with a light’ at officers. He was shot and killed as a result of that, according to the Alabama Law Enforcement Agency (ALEA).
Perkins’ family maintains the towing company was not at the right house because Perkins’ truck payments were current.
Many questions remain unanswered in Perkins’ case, however, one area attorney says there are laws that must be followed during repo actions.
According to Alabama Code § 7-9A-609, after a borrower defaults a lender can take possession of collateral or make that collateral unusable. The code section goes on to explain that a lender can accomplish a repossession with the court’s assistance, or without the court as long as there is no “breach of the peace.”
Attorney Mark McDaniel, who is not connected to this case, says the portion about a breach of peace is critical. However, authorities have not released many details so far.
“The person doing the repossession cannot make a threat. There can be no violence there at all. They certainly cannot go into your house or a locked garage,” McDaniel explained. “The issue then in this particular case is if a person goes to the police, if that’s what happened, the police come back and the issue is then the reasonableness of the police officer going back to the scene there.”
The City of Decatur has not released the body camera footage connected to this incident.
McDaniel says the case is not going away any time soon and he’s interested to see what information comes out in court relevant to the parties involved.
The incident is still under investigation and the police officer who shot Perkins remains on leave, pending that investigation.