Liquor store owner sues Alabama city, claims excessive police force

The owner said a police officer punched him after he called to report a shoplifter. (WAFF)
Published: Mar. 21, 2022 at 2:06 PM CDT
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DECATUR, Ala. (WAFF/Gray News) - A man says he’s still dealing with the effects of an encounter with police officers two years later and wants the city of Decatur to be held accountable.

Liquor store owner Kevin Penn called the police on a shoplifter in 2020. Now, he’s suing the city and the officer who threw a punch at him after the incident occurred at Star Spirits and Beverages, WAFF reports.

“It shows very clearly that he had a magazine in his hand. It shows very clearly that he was reloading the magazine,” said Former Decatur Police Chief Nate Allen.

Allen says when officers arrived at the scene, they thought Penn was the thief. However, the lawsuit recently filed by Penn alleges the officers knew exactly who he was.

In the lawsuit, Penn says he was holding the thief at gunpoint until officers could arrive on the scene.

It also claims Officer Justin Rippen threw a punch after the thief was in custody and the gun was out of Penn’s hand. The lawsuit states the punch broke Penn’s jaw and knocked out a tooth.

The incident happened during an attempted shoplifting in 2020.
The incident happened during an attempted shoplifting in 2020.(WAFF)

It also accuses the city and the department of not holding officers accountable for misconduct.

“The City regularly receives complaints concerning officers who, as Rippen did here, react with unjustifiable violence and false charges when a citizen speaks up or otherwise asserts his rights as an American citizen,” the lawsuit says.

A city spokesperson was unable to provide a comment Friday on the accusations.

After the punch, Rippen arrested Penn and charged him with obstructing governmental operations. Penn claims there was no probable cause for the arrest.

Those charges have not been dropped, according to Penn’s attorney. He is now seeking damages from the city for what he calls the emotional and physical pain he has endured.

Copyright 2022 WAFF via Gray Media Group, Inc. All rights reserved.