A federal jury Jan. 18 found two former Birmingham, Ala. police officers not guilty of using unreasonable force and violating the civil rights of a Black suspect who they arrested.
Barrett G. Dewitt, who is Black, and David Doran, who is White, were among the officers videotaped beating Anthony Warren after a high-speed chase ended with Warren being ejected from his van as it flipped on an interstate on-ramp.
After being thrown from the vehicle, cameras mounted in the officers’ cars showed Warren laying motionless, face down in a drainage ditch. Officers then swarmed him, beating him, prosecutors said during the trial. All the officers are White, except Dewitt.
During the 22-minute chase, footage also shows Warren hitting one police officer with his vehicle and nearly running over others.
As a result of the incident, Dewitt, Doran and three other officers were fired. Dewitt’s attorney says the verdict is vindication and the two men should have their jobs back.
“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,” Dewitt’s attorney, Emory Anthony, told Birmingham Fox affiliate WBRC.
However, prosecutors maintain that there was sufficient reason for the ex-cops to stand trial. U.S. Attorney Joyce White Vance said that she hopes the trial itself sends a message to law enforcement.
“We felt the videotape evidence of this beating made a compelling case for conviction,” Vance said. “Our job is to present the evidence to the jury, but it is the jury’s role to determine whether the evidence proves a crime. We are satisfied that the jury took this matter seriously and genuinely weighed the evidence.”
Now that the trial is over, Warren is expected to proceed with his lawsuit against the city of Birmingham and the officers. He is serving a 20-year sentence for running over the police officer in the chase.