Tape of Beating Leads to Firing of 5 Officers
By ROBBIE BROWN Published: May 20, 2009
See VIDEO HERE
Five police officers in Birmingham, Ala., were fired Wednesday after a video became public that shows them beating and kicking an apparently unconscious man in 2008 after a highway chase.
Chief A. C. Roper of the Birmingham Police Department called the actions “shameful,” and the state Bureau of Investigation is considering charges.
The video, filmed on Jan. 23, 2008, by a patrol car camera, showed officers chasing a suspect, Anthony Warren, who lost control of his van and was ejected from a window in the crash.
After the officers raced toward Mr. Warren, motionless on the roadside, they could be seen punching, kicking and beating him with a billy club.
The video was released by the city on Wednesday. Prosecutors for the district attorney of Jefferson County, Brandon Falls, found the tape in March while preparing their case against Mr. Warren, who received a 20-year sentence for first-degree assault for hitting an officer with his van in the chase.
Mr. Warren filed a claim against the city for more than $100,000, saying the beating left him with a severe concussion, a skull fracture, and other injuries, said his lawyer, Wendy Crew.
“He was not a threat to anyone,” Ms. Crew said. “There was no reason for the excessive force.”
She also accused the police department of tampering with the video.
Chief Roper did not identify the officers, but said they were veterans.
“We’ve terminated over 50 years of combined service due to 10 seconds of injustice,” he said. “In addition to these terminations, we’re also reviewing our supervisor’s actions, reporting mechanisms and policies.”
Many officers and supervisors in the police department viewed the video in the past year but did not report it, the authorities said.
Mayor Larry P. Langford likened the beating to the police violence that occurred in the city during the civil rights movement.
“Dr. King wrote from the Birmingham Jail that ‘injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere,’ ” Mayor Langford said. “More than 40 years later, we must send the message that all citizens deserve equal and fair treatment under the law.”
The officers can appeal their terminations.