Former officers found not guilty in civil rights trial - WBRC FOX6 News - Birmingham, AL

Former officers found not guilty in civil rights trial

Still shot from a Birmingham police car video shows the arrest of Anthony Warren in January 2008 (source Birmingham Police Department) Still shot from a Birmingham police car video shows the arrest of Anthony Warren in January 2008 (source Birmingham Police Department)

By Melanie Posey

BIRMINGHAM, AL (WBRC) - A federal jury found two former Birmingham police officers not guilty of violating the civil rights of a man beaten after a police chase.

The jury returned the verdict Tuesday morning after resuming deliberations earlier in the day. Jurors began deliberations in the case Friday afternoon after closing arguments. After the verdict was read, David Doran and Barrett Dewitt could be seen crying and hugging family members.

The lawyers for the two officers spoke on their behalf since the men still face a civil trial.

"One of the most important things throughout this trial was trying to show beyond the video...that our client was doing his job over an individual out on the street acting like a thug," said Dewitt's attorney Emory Anthony.

"The jury needed to understand from him what he was experiencing, the fear he anticipated from the suspect. I think it was critically important to put him on the stand," said Doran's attorney Anthony Joseph.

Thomas Crow, an investigator with the administrative division of the Birmingham Police Department responded to the verdict by saying, "We are elated, of course, ecstatic about it. Until you have walked in the shoes of a police officer...I would ask that they think about that judgement they're making."

But federal prosecutors stand by their claims that the officers lost control that day and beat Warren to punish him, not subdue him.

"We believe it was certainly appropriate to charge these two defendants, to let a jury decide," said U.S. prosecutor Robert Posey. "I hope it sends the message that if law enforcement engages in this conduct they will be brought to court and have to face a jury," Posey continued.

Federal prosecutors had charged David Doran and Barrett Dewitt with violating the civil rights of Anthony Warren. Warren was beaten by officers after a lengthy chase through Birmingham and Hoover in January 2008.  The chase ended in Hoover shortly after a Hoover police officer was struck and injured by Warren's car.

Video of the 22-minute chase, captured by police car cameras, shows suspect Anthony Warren hitting one police officer and nearly running over a few others during a high speed chase that ended when he was thrown out of his van as it flipped on an interstate on-ramp. What happens next is the most memorable image, showing Birmingham Police officers swarming Warren and beating  him with their hands and at least one club. The aftermath of that chase ended five officers' careers with the city, launched a civil lawsuit and put Dewitt and Doran on trial for allegedly violating Warren's civil rights.

Doran and Dewitt each faced one federal charge of using unreasonable force.

Warren is also suing the city of Birmingham and several current and former officers in civil court. That lawsuit has been delayed until after this criminal trial.

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