Five Birmingham police officers have been fired for a January 2008 beating of an already-unconscious suspect with fists, feet and a billy club, a battering caught on videotape until a police officer turned off the patrol car camera, city and police officials said today.
Authorities believe the video, taken after a high-speed chase by several area law enforcement agencies ended when the fleeing suspect's van flipped, has been seen by numerous Birmingham officers and up to a half dozen supervisors over the past year. But top city and police officials weren't made aware of the taped beating until they were contacted by the district attorney's office two months ago.
In fact, investigators say, the suspect, Anthony Warren, didn't even know he'd been beaten until the tape surfaced at his trial in March (2009). Warren was ejected from the vehicle and knocked unconscious, and thought all of his injuries were sustained in the wreck.
Go here and be sure to watch the video.
After you do, come back here and read my comments below.
The complete news story in the hard copy of the News on my desk says that ABI has been called in to determine IF these guys should be charged with criminal assault. Now, does anyone think that if one of us came across an UNCONSCIOUS man and began beating him, even if he had clipped us with a car, even if he had threatened us directly or indirectly, that more than five seconds would elapse between the time we were discovered and the time we would be thrown under the jail?
Was this guy a career criminal scumbag? Absolutely.
Did he deserve a beating while unconscious?
Note, too, that this has been played and replayed for over a year like some personal favorite episode of Cops, "Watcha gonna do when we come for you?"
And these are the guys that Helmke and Company want to give a monopoly of violence to.