After reporting a robbery in his own store, Kevin Penn was hit and handcuffed by a member of the Decatur Police Department in Alabama.
The incident occurred back on March 15 but has seen renewed interest after bodycam footage was shared on Facebook citing the current Black Lives Matter movement.
The Decatur Police Department released enhanced bodycam footage, with white circles around a gun that remains on the counter the entire time, to justify an attack on the Black store owner that called them for help.
Decatur Police release body cam footage of store owner being punched by police youtu.be
An unnamed Decatur police officer punched Penn in the face when they responded to a robbery at his store. Penn sustained injuries from the hit, lost multiple teeth, and also had to have his jaw wired shut for several weeks.
After being robbed at his store, Star Spirits & Beverages, Penn set his loaded gun on his counter.
When the police arrived, he informed them of the presence of the gun and removed a single bullet from the chamber, as well as the magazine then set the gun back down on the counter.
Though the footage in the body cam footage is blurry, the police highlighted Penn's proximity to his unloaded gun. Penn never removes the unloaded gun from the counter again before being hit.
One police officer approached him, gun drawn, without touching him. The second, who is now doing desk work for the Decatur Police, struck Penn before placing him in handcuffs with a serious maxillofacial injury.
You can watch the video here:
According to Carl Cole, Penn's attorney, there is evidence to support Penn is the one who made police aware of the presence of his gun. Other than holding the magazine he had just removed from the gun, Penn did not touch or pick up the gun during the interaction with police.
The justification from the police was that Penn did not listen to authorities, to distance himself further away from the unloaded weapon. Decatur Police Chief Nate Allen explained why he chose to release the body cam footage to justify the attack on the unarmed store owner.
"We wanted to show that because one thing I strive to do is build relationship with community. We need to be very transparent; we need to be very open. But most of all, we need our citizens to respect the police department and we need the police department to respect the citizens."
Penn was arrested at the time for obstructing government operations, though he was the one to originally report the robbery at his own store.
Penn announced he will not only be making a public statement but that he will also sue the Decatur Police Department.
The video of the attack on Penn has been making the rounds on social media since appearing on Facebook.
In response to the video on Facebook, many were appalled, including some who know Kevin Penn personally.
Many on Twitter, on the other hand, some people responded with the oft repeated response of "why didn't he just comply?".
However these victim blamers also all note Penn should have "put down the gun" despite the video showing he isn't holding the gun.
It's unknown yet what will come of Penn's lawsuit against the Decatur Police Department.
However, situations like this need to be shared to not only hold authorities more accountable, but so each of these instances of violence against unarmed people of color can be reviewed.