BIRMINGHAM, Ala. -- Five Birmingham police officers were fired Wednesday for beating an unconscious suspect ejected from a car after a chase, an attack captured on a patrol car videotape that didn't surface publicly for a year. Police Chief A.C. Roper said the officers, who were not identified, were seasoned veterans but acted in a "shameful" manner.
The video shows police pursuing Anthony Warren's van on Jan. 23, 2008. One officer on foot was hurt when the van swerved through traffic. It overturned on a ramp, ejecting Warren, who lay motionless as officers ran toward him. The video shows them beating him with their fists, feet and a billy club.
An attorney representing Warren in a civil case said he was hospitalized after the chase and didn't realize he'd been beaten until a prosecutor preparing for his trial requested the tape, saw the attack and told the defense about it.
Roper said the department had "terminated 50 years of combined service due to 10 seconds of injustice."
The officers can appeal. More HERE
AAPP says: The brother was wrong for endangering the lives of people in that high speed chase, yet the police acted like out of control animals. Yes, the department had "terminated 50 years of combined service, one has to wonder if this is the only 10 seconds of injustice by these guys." Congratulations Mayor of Birmingham for your quick decision. Now fire more people who covered this up.
I guess they would love to have a lynching party.
As reported by The Birmingham
The Alabama Bureau of Investigation is investigating the beating, who altered the tape, in what agency that alteration occurred, and whether it was intentional. The FBI said Wednesday night it had launched a civil rights investigation of the incident.
The tape of the beating of Anthony Shannon Warren, which the Birmingham Police Department released publicly Wednesday, is drawing national attention and has spawned additional internal and criminal investigations.
The five officers' attorney, Gayle Gear, said the men believed Warren posed a threat and responded in accordance with their training.
The incident happened Jan. 23, 2008, when a police officer tried to question Warren, now 38, about possible drug activity. A 22-minute chase followed, during which Warren struck a Hoover police officer and then was thrown from his own van after he crashed.
Authorities said he was unconscious when the five officers began kicking him and beating him with a billy club and fists. The battering was captured on police video until a sixth officer turned off the lights and siren in the cruiser that held the camera, automatically shutting off the camera.
Warren was charged with attempted murder of the Hoover officer, but later pleaded guilty to first-degree assault and is serving a 20-year prison sentence. More HERE
Unaware of his beating
The allegation of tampering is also an issue raised in a claim filed with the city of Birmingham on behalf of Warren, shortly after he entered his guilty plea.
The claim detailed Warren's injuries, which included a concussion and a skull fracture, but also alleges the Police Department interfered with the administration of justice and conspired to tamper with evidence.
"Also of great concern to us is the fact that .¤.¤. everything after the van flipped, the entire beating, was deleted on the tape given to the defense counsel, with clear intent to suppress," said lawyer Wendy Crew, who represents Warren. "The tampering with the evidence and the editing of the video and proffering it was clearly a conscious and deliberate act."
Crew said Warren was shot with a Taser before the high-speed chase, and contended that the chase should have never started.
Warren, who was hospitalized for five days after the incident, was unaware he had been beaten until the video came to light.
"This case isn't about Anthony Warren," Crew said. "It's about a systemic problem with training, with failing to intervene, with the culture of tolerance of this kind of behavior and about the deliberate tampering with evidence."
Roper said all aspects of the incident remain under investigation.
"One thing is for certain, the video, as incriminating as it is, was kept safe and secure by this department for over a year," he said. "When it came to our attention, we launched an internal investigation which is still continuing."
No response to order
Gear, the officers' lawyer, said they all responded according to procedure. None saw Warren ejected from the van, she said, and they approached him presuming he was dangerous and were unaware he was unconscious.
She said Dewitt saw Warren on the ground and approached, shouting: "Show me your hands!" as he was trained to do. When Warren did not comply, Dewitt struck him with a baton to make him show his hands.
Other officers followed suit.
As Doran approached, Dewitt slipped. Thinking Dewitt had been shot, Gear said, Doran hit Warren.
"In those 11 seconds we had two officers frantic to get this man to show his hands," Gear said.
Cleveland, the third man to arrive, hit Warren in the pressure points on the neck, non-lethal strikes within Birmingham policy, Gear said.
"He tries the procedures," she said. "When it doesn't work, he backs off."
Boackle struck Warren on a part of the leg intended to disable him before seeing he was unresponsive. Prevo was the last officer to hit Warren.
If supervisors thought the officers had used excessive force, they would have reprimanded them on the scene or included it in reports of the incident that went through several people before ending up on the police chief's desk, Gear said.
First disciplinary action
The officers, whose time on the force ranges from seven to 13 years each, have appealed their dismissals to the Jefferson County Personnel Board.
Two of the five officers who were fired changed positions after the January incident. Boackle was promoted to sergeant in August 2008, Gear said. Prevo moved from the narcotics unit to the burglary unit in October 2008.
This was the first time any of the officers have been called before the police chief for a disciplinary matter, Gear said. One of the officers, Doran, received a legislative medal of honor for carrying a woman to safety from a second-floor apartment during a fire, Gear said. Another, Dewitt, had been honored as a finalist for the FOP Officer of the Year Award.
She said they are devastated by the entire disciplinary process.
"These are the best examples of our fine police force that we have," Gear said.