City of Decatur fighting subpoenas for officers in Marquette gag order hearing

DECATUR, Ala. (WHNT) — Decatur City attorneys are fighting subpoenas for multiple officers called to testify at an upcoming gag order hearing in a former Decatur police officer’s murder case.

Court filings Monday show that as part of that hearing, Morgan County District Attorney Scott Anderson is looking at law enforcement agencies to find who leaked police body cam video from the night Stephen Perkins was shot and killed by Decatur police.

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Anderson has subpoenaed about 18 witnesses, primarily from the Decatur Police Department. He’s also subpoenaed number of Alabama Law Enforcement Agency officers for the hearing.

Former Decatur police officer Mac Bailey Marquette is charged with murder in the Sept. 29 on-duty shooting of Perkins outside of Perkins’ home. A temporary gag order in his case was issued March 22 and a hearing on whether to make the gag order permanent is set for Friday, May 17.

The gag order bars out-of-court public discussions of the case or releases of information by the parties involved, including attorneys on all sides. Decatur’s attorneys say the city’s officers don’t have any information that is relevant to the gag order hearing and should not be made to testify.

But Anderson said in a court filing responding to Decatur’s objection that he is concerned with ensuring there is a fair trial.

“If the source of the leaked video is employed by the Alabama Law Enforcement Agency, the Decatur Police Department, or the Morgan County District Attorney’s Office, their continued access to information about this case poses a potential threat to the integrity of the case without restraint by this Court,” Anderson said.

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After the gag order was issued, the conservative Alabama website 1819 News released what appears to be Marquette’s body camera footage from the night of the Perkins shooting. The website says it’s video that the Alabama Law Enforcement Agency (ALEA) provided to the Morgan County DA’s Office in the Marquette investigation, but it is not clear how they got access to the video.

Note: News 19 doesn’t own the rights to the video and has not aired it. News 19’s parent company Nexstar requires its stations to obtain permission from the video’s original owner in order to air it.)

A lawyer for the City of Decatur filed a motion to quash or release the officers from their subpoenas on Monday.

Despite months of calls for the police department to release the bodycam footage, the motion states it decided not to release it to “assure the integrity of the criminal process,” even though it would have been favorable for the city and it was given “permission to do whatever it chose with the video.”

Additionally, the motion argues that although shift supervisor lieutenants did have access to the video, a written directive was given to them regarding how to maintain it, telling them to not copy it or distribute it to anyone and to maintain the chain of custody.

Assistant City Attorney Wayne Alexander Jr. argues in the filing that the Decatur officers who were subpoenaed were not part of the investigation and did not produce a report, therefore they have no “material or relevant evidence to provide concerning the Gag Order.”

The city also argues that bringing the entire police command structure of the department in a meeting and unavailable to the rest of the department leaves Decatur and its people vulnerable.

A judge has yet to rule on the motion as of the time this article was published.

You can see all of our prior reporting on Marquette’s case and the death of Stephen Perkins on this page.

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