Birmingham police officer arrested after fake help call, hoax

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BPD Chief: Officer's call hoax

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WBRC) - Birmingham Police Chief Patrick Smith says an officer in his department was relieved of his duties after a hoax they say was manufactured last month.

Sgt. Johnny Williams says officer Keith Buchanan was arrested on Thursday night. He was released early Friday morning on $2000 bond. He is charged with making a false report, criminal mischief and discharging a firearm in city limits.

Chief Smith spoke at a press conference on Thursday afternoon. He says Officer Keith Buchanan was patrolling a rural road near Tarrant on July 21 when he put out a call on police radio where shots could be heard in the background.

After that help call went out, dispatchers say Buchanan wasn’t heard on radio for 30 minutes.

Several officers were sent to find him, but citizens noticed an abandoned car along train tracks with bullet holes in it.

Other officers found Buchanan on the side of the road appearing to be unconscious.

Chief Smith says they thoroughly investigated the entire situation and concluded the radio call, help call, lying injured on the tracks, and damage to the police car were all part of a hoax.

“We found nothing to support the officer’s account of this incident,” Chief Smith said.

Officials say he graduated from police academy in July 2012 and served in the north precinct.

Buchanan was relieved of duty last week by Chief Smith.

“This officer did a lot that night to present a false image of heroism,” Smith said during the press conference.

The president of the Birmingham Police union says officers are supposed to do their jobs with integrity.

“From a fraternal order of police standpoint, whenever an officer’s integrity is called into question, it sets the organization back and causes issues with us building public trust or keeping the public’s trust,” Lt. Richard Haluska, with the Birmingham FOP Lodge #1 said.

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