Just Like Back In The Day; Five Alabama Police Officers Beat Unconscious Black Man

By Noble Johns

Like in the days of Bombingham and Bull Connor, five police officers brutally kicked and beat an unconscious suspect after a high-speed chase through Birmingham, Alabama, in an incident caught on camera and discovered a year later.

Theophilus Eugene "Bull" Connor was a Democratic Party politician and police official from the city of Birmingham, Alabama, during the American Civil Rights Movement. He was a member of the Ku Klux Klan, and a staunch advocate of racial segregation.

As the Public Safety Commissioner of Birmingham, Alabama, in the 1960s, Connor became a symbol of bigotry. He infamously fought against integration by using fire hoses and police attack dogs against protest marchers. His aggressive tactics backfired when the spectacle of the brutality being broadcast on national television served as one of the catalysts for major social and legal change in the South and helped in large measure to assure the passage by the United States Congress of the Civil Rights Act of 1964

Video shows one black and four white officers beating and kicking unconscious man ejected from car, and the one Black needs to be drawn and quartered for being a traitor to his race. Like J. Fletcher of the Chattanooga Police Department; the Nigger would not have a job if he was not Black. … Because the stupid Nigger is too dumb to get a job on his own merit.

The five officers have been fired, Mayor Larry Langford said at a news conference Wednesday. An internal inquiry is continuing.

The dashboard-cam footage, which officials believe was shot in January 2008, was aired for reporters Wednesday. It showed the end of a 100-mile-an-hour police chase of a van driven by Anthony Warren, suspected of illegal drug activity.

Police had chased the van almost 50 miles, winding from downtown Birmingham to suburban Hoover. The video captured the van knocking down a police officer standing on a roadway, then turning up an interstate highway ramp, where it flipped over and rolled into a ditch.

Warren was ejected from the van and stopped moving. The five officers — one black, four white — ruthlessly beat the suspect, who is black, the video shows.

A police mug shot taken five days after the beating was posted on the Web site of The Birmingham News. It shows a badly bruised man wearing a neck brace.

Police Chief A.C. Roper told reporters that the video was brought to his attention in March by the district attorney's office, which stumbled upon the footage as it was preparing for Warren's trial.

Warren was charged with attempted murder, but no trial took place because he pleaded guilty to a reduced charge of aggravated assault. He is in prison serving a 20-year sentence.

Roper said he was "shocked" to learn of the video and that it had been around for so long without his knowledge.

In addition to a continuing internal investigation that could lead to disciplining supervisors, he said the Alabama Bureau of Investigation is considering criminal charges against the five officers.

Langford said the incident brought back to mind days of segregation and police brutality toward Blacks.

"The culture of the past was that police brutality was acceptable," Langford said. "In Birmingham, Alabama, in the present day, it is not acceptable."

Langford said the five officers showed exceptional restraint in chasing the fleeing suspect and performed in exemplary fashion until the last scene caught on the video.

The camera captured 11 seconds of the five officers beating Warren with their fists and batons.

"Those 11 seconds will not be tolerated," said Langford, who signed letters of termination for the five officers on Tuesday.

"Over 50 years of combined police experience gone over 11 seconds," he said.

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