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Caught on Tape: Officers Fired Over Beating of Unconscious Man

Video reveals police officers beat an unconscious man after a car chase.

ByABC News
May 20, 2009, 3:29 PM

May 20, 2009— -- Five police officers in Birmingham, Ala., were fired Tuesday evening for beating an unconscious man as revealed in a video recently obtained by top city officials, according to reporting from the Birmingham News.

The video shows police officers violently beating an unconscious suspect after a 22-minute interstate chase. Captured from inside a Birmingham police car, the video reveals the subject, 38-year-old Anthony Warren, in a white Ford van being chased by several patrol cars.

The van is recklessly driving through traffic and swerving from lane to lane before it flips and a man is ejected from the vehicle. At that point, the officers descend on the unconscious body, using their fists and feet to strike Warren, who makes no attempt to defend himself.

Birmingham Police Chief A.C. Roper and Mayor Larry Langford held a press conference Wednesday to announce the police department's firings and added that further disciplinary measures will be taken against those who were aware of the beating, but failed to report it.

"The video is troubling because these are seasoned veteran officers," Chief Roper said Wednesday. "In fact, we've terminated over 50 years of combined service due to 10 seconds of injustice."

In addition to the officers' termination, the Alabama Bureau of Investigation is looking into possible criminal charges. .

"There are no winners in the situation," the chief said. "We have five officers who lost their jobs and a citizen who suffered unnecessarily."

The incident occurred Jan. 23, 2008, though it was not until this week that the public was made aware of the video. Allegedly, the tape was seen by many officers over the last year, but authorities say that it was not until the district attorney's office was made aware of the tape just months ago, that senior city and police officials saw the beating on tape.

Senior reporter for the Birmingham News Carol Robinson told ABC News that the story "unfolded very quickly" once the news began to leak out.

"We found out about it late last week but it was very sketchy information. On Monday, we had city officials talking to one of our other reporters and myself. We were tipped off that this video existed and began reporting from there," said Robinson on Wednesday.