deliberations begin Friday morning in the trial of two former Birmingham
police officers accused of using excessive force on a police chase
David Doran and Barrett Dewitt defended their actions against Anthony Warren. Each testified he felt threatened by the suspect who had just struck a Hoover police officer with his van.
The federal judge told jurors in order for
the men to be found guilty, the prosecution must have proved beyond a
reasonable doubt that the men knowingly acted under law, deprived Warren
of his constitutional right, and abused or misused authority. There
must also be proof of bodily injury, and in Dewitt's case, the use of a
The jurors watched three dash camera videos from the January 23, 2008 police chase that ended with Warren's car flipping, Warren being ejected, and Doran and Dewitt hitting him.
Several officers testified, including Dewitt and Doran, to being scared for their lives after seeing Warren's van hit patrol cars and a Hoover officer.
Dewitt said he yelled "show me your hands" but did not pausing before hitting the unmoving suspect five times with his baton.
Doran also said he punched Warren eleven
times but didn't remember going back to kick him after other officers
felt the threat was over.
"He was dangerous. His hands were underneath him and he wasn't complying. He could have been reaching for a weapon," said Doran.
Yet, both men admitted to walking away before Warren was cuffed or had shown his hands.
A UAB doctor testified last week. He could not verify whether Warren's injuries were caused by the crash or the blows.
Jurors have also been told to judge the actions from the point of view of a reasonable officer.
The defense argues the men acted reasonably given the situation.
But prosecutors say they acted with lethal force without hesitation.