Two former police officers indicted for civil rights violations - WBRC FOX6 News - Birmingham, AL

Two former Birmingham police officers indicted for civil rights violations

Video from a Birmingham police car of the arrest of Anthony Warren in January 2008 (source Birmingham Police Department) Video from a Birmingham police car of the arrest of Anthony Warren in January 2008 (source Birmingham Police Department)

BIRMINGHAM, AL (WBRC) - A federal grand jury on Wednesday indicted two former members of the Birmingham Police Department for using unreasonable force during a January 2008 arrest.

The U.S. Department of Justice and U.S. Attorney Joyce White Vance, in a statement Wednesday afternoon to FOX6 News, said David Wayne Doran and Barrett Gene Dewitt are each charged with one count of violating the civil rights of Anthony Warren. The indictment said the officers, while acting in their official capacity, aided and abetted one another in striking Warren with fists, feet and a baton on Jan. 23, 2008. Those blows caused bodily injury to Warren, who was identified in the indictment as A.W.

"Most law enforcement officers work every day to protect us and they earn our confidence by performing their duties with honor and integrity," Vance said in the statement. "Police officers who use unreasonable force must be brought to account so that we can all feel safe and have trust in the officers who are there to protect us."

According to the indictment, Dewitt and Doran violated the victim's civil rights by depriving Warren of his Fourth Amendment constitutional right to be free of unreasonable seizures, which includes the right to be free from the use of unreasonable force by someone acting under the color of law.

Wendy Crew represents Anthony Warren and says she's not surprised, "We have claimed civil rights violations from the beginning of the lawsuit. We have always agreed with what Chief Roper said after he viewed the video---that in regard to these officers there was a failure of training, policy, procedure, practice. So we agree with Chief Roper on this."

The defendants' attorney, Gayle Gear said, "There's absolutely no way anyone in Washington D.C., in Eric Holder's office, the office of civil rights, can know what happens here. They weren't there on the scene, they've never had the testimony, and they don't know what was going on."

The arrest gained national attention in 2008 when Warren's apprehension was captured on video by a dashcam inside a Birmingham police officer's patrol car.  Prior to the arrest, officers and deputies from Birmingham, Hoover, and Jefferson County chased the suspect for 22 minutes. The chase began in downtown Birmingham and ended in Hoover when an officer nudged the suspect's vehicle as he was attempting to re-enter Interstate 459 at the Highway 31 exit, causing the vehicle to overturn. Just moments before the chase ended, the video showed the suspect's vehicle striking and injuring a Hoover police officer on foot.

The video was not released to the public until three months after the incident when the district attorney's office contacted Birmingham city officials. Five Birmingham officers were ultimately fired for their role in the incident.

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