(NY DAILY NEWS) – Newly released video shows Decauter, Ala., police punching, tackling and handcuffing a black store owner after he reported that his shop was being robbed.
After surveillance video from the March 15 incident at Star Spirits & Beverages began circulating on social media over the weekend, the Decauter Police Department released body cam footage from the three responding officers on Monday in what Police Chief Nate Allen said was a desire to be “transparent.”
The clip released by the police shows three officers entering the liquor store and yelling to the store owner, 47-year-old Kevin Penn, to put his hands in the air. The video then goes into slow-motion and shows Penn’s gun, sitting on the counter next to him.
But the surveillance video went further, showing one of the officers punch Penn in the face, then all three jumping on him to handcuff him.
Allen said Penn refused to put his gun down when told to by police, but the store owner’s lawyer told AL.com that he was trying to tell them that he was armed. Penn also removed the bullet from the gun to show officers, his lawyer said.
Officer J. Rippen wrote in his report that that Penn “refused to obey lawful commands to put down and back away from a firearm while officers were attempting to investigate a robbery.”
Penn suffered a broken jaw from the punch and had several teeth knocked out, his lawyer told AL.com.
He has been charged with obstruction of government operations.
Allen said Monday that department policy requires officers to use the least amount of force “to get the job done.”
“I’d much rather have a punch than an officer-involved shooting,” he said during a press conference.
The officer who punched Penn has been placed on desk duty pending an investigation.
The suspect who originally sparked the 911 call was later apprehended and charged with shoplifting.