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Former Decatur police officer pleads not guilty, waives arraignment

Former Decatur police officer Mac Bailey Marquette, charged with murder in the shooting death of Decatur resident Stephen Perkins, has pleaded not guilty and waived his right to an arraignment scheduled for next month.

Mack Bailey Market (Marshall County Sheriff's Department/Facebook)

The incident last September sparked protests and anger against Decatur police and Mayor Tab Bowling, as some residents said there was a lack of transparency and the subsequent investigation was too slow.

The initial police report turned out to be inaccurate, and after the department investigated, Mr. Bowling fired three officers, including Mr. Marquette, and suspended one. The Morgan County District Attorney's Office turned the case over to the Alabama Department of Law Enforcement, which charged the officers based on the findings of the investigation.

Birmingham Marquette lawyer Liz Young argued her client acted in self-defense and did nothing wrong.

The protests drew crowds and lots of media attention, but only a handful of residents showed up outside City Hall when the market surrendered Thursday night. There are also calls for Bowling's resignation from the community.

Mr Perkins was shot to death in his front yard last September when police arrived to resolve a dispute over the seizure of a vehicle. Police said Perkins was at the scene because he threatened a tow truck driver with a gun and then pointed the gun at officers.

Perkins did not respond to police asking him to drop the weapon, according to the initial police report. Decatur Police Chief Todd Pinion later apologized, saying the initial report mischaracterized what happened and was wrong to say Perkins refused to drop the gun.

Nick Perkins, the deceased man's brother, said he had seen body camera footage from the incident, but could not comment. WAAY-TV reports that he is working with state Sen. Marikka Coleman on a new body camera bill in the Legislature.

“In fact, families will be able to view body camera footage within 30 days of the event, and body camera footage will, in fact, become public record rather than a private entity's record,” Nick said. Perkins said in his report.

“The community has lost confidence in the mayor and police chief of this city. The foundation of any good foundation with leadership is trust, and without trust there is no leadership.”

According to the Morgan County Sheriff's Office, Marquette turned himself in and was taken into custody by Sheriff Ron Puckett. He was charged with murder on a grand jury warrant and held on $30,000 bail.

Mr. Marquette was conditionally hired on September 24, 2020 and certified by the Police Officer Standards and Training Commission in April 2021.

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