DECATUR, Ala. – An Alabama police department addressed the public Monday after viral surveillance footage appeared to show an officer punching an armed store owner who had reported a robbery.
According to AL.com, Decatur police officers who responded to the March 15 call at Star Beverages mistook the store’s owner, Kevin Penn, for a possible suspect because he had a gun, the department said in a news conference Monday. Decatur Police Chief Nate Allen said one officer struck Penn after he refused to put down his weapon in the incident, which wasn’t actually a robbery but a shoplifting.
The punch left Penn, who said he had been holding the suspected shoplifter at gunpoint, with a broken jaw, Penn’s lawyer told the news outlet. Police arrested Penn on a charge of obstructing government operations and also arrested the shoplifting suspect, WAFF-TV reported.
During Monday’s news conference, police showed body camera video from the incident after surveillance footage went viral Sunday.
“We pride ourselves on being a transparent police department, and we’re here this afternoon to continue the dialogue,” the department said in a statement.
The officer who punched Penn has been placed on desk duty, AL.com reported. The department also is conducting an internal investigation, Allen said.