Caught on camera following a 22-minute chase, five Birmingham, AL, police officers are shown beating a defenseless suspect after the minivan in which he was driving rolled over on a freeway entrance ramp. The year-old video footage taken by a camera in one of the pursuing police cruisers captured the final moments of the chase. After the drug suspect was ejected from the rolling vehicle, several of the cops swooped down on the apparently unconscious man and pummeled him a number of times with their fists, feet and a billy club, according to reports.
This atrocious act of brutality screams lawsuit in anyone's book. Which is exactly what the victim, 38-year-old Anthony Warren, and his Alabama criminal defense lawyer are pursuing with a suit filed on March 12. It claims that police officers "repeatedly struck the claimant about his head and body causing him to be hospitalized for four days and unconscious for the majority of that time."
The suit is in excess of $100,000 and asserts that, aside from the numerous physical injuries the man received on January 23, 2008, police interfered with the administration of justice and entered into a conspiracy to tamper with evidence. Oddly, top city and police officials were not even aware of the taped beating until they were contacted by the district attorney's office two months ago.
As a Birmingham criminal lawyer, my stance is that any municipality, as well as any officers who are found guilty of having a hand in such an episode, should be sued outright for this kind of violation of individual rights. This is why criminal defense lawyers exist. Because law enforcement has such overreaching power, any person who is charged with or even suspected of a crime must seek professional legal representation. Always.
Admittedly, many people have little sympathy for an alleged drug suspect running from the law, and outwardly, that's what the police video shows. But depending on the facts of the case, the suspect could have been innocent. In fact, that's why the law clearly states that a person is innocent until proven guilty. Taken to its logical end, it is easy to understand that this is why defendants stand trial in a courtroom, and not on the side of the road.
What those cops did last year was nothing short of roadside justice, which for a public servant is inexcusable, especially for those who are entrusted with the power to enforce our laws. When a police officer oversteps the bounds of decent and ethical behavior, he is no longer acting in society's best interest. In such cases, he must be held accountable for his actions.
At my law firm, I provide an aggressive defense for individuals accused of crimes such as drug possession and sale, sexual assault, and theft. If you feel you have been mistreated by the police, give me a call for a free legal consultation.
Birmingham police beating video: Attorney for beaten man filed claim against city, AL.com, May 20, 2009
Birmingham police beating video: Five officers fired, AL.com, May 20, 2009, AL.com, May 20, 2009