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The city of Birmingham settled a controversial police beating lawsuit for over $450,000, but the plaintiff remains in prison and won’t see even half of his winnings.
Under terms of the settlement approved by the City Council and Mayor William Bell, Anthony Warren will receive $1,000, while his attorneys receive $359,000 in fees and $100,000 in expenses, AL.com learned this evening.
In his lawsuit, Warren claimed five Birmingham police officers used excessive force when they hit and kicked him at the end of a high speed chase in 2008. A video of the chase and its aftermath was widely publicized and garnered national attention.
The 20 to 25-minute car multi-city chase began when Warren attempted to flee from a narcotics officer. He then hit a school bus, a patrol car, and struck a Hoover police officer who attempted to lay tire puncture strips across U.S. 31.
Warren was finally arrested when his vehicle flipped over. The police dashboard camera video shows officers striking Warren for less than 10 seconds as he lay on the ground.
Although Warren’s attorneys claimed he was unconscious, they did not prove at the trial that the officers knew his condition or if he was unconscious.
“During the chase Mr. Warren endangered the lives of numerous innocent civilians and police officers,” Birmingham officials said in a written statement. “The chase ended shortly after Mr. Warren struck a Hoover police officer with his vehicle on Highway 31. Although deadly force was warranted at various points during the chase, the officers testified that their goal was to preserve Mr. Warren’s life and the lives of innocent bystanders.”
A jury had previously acquitted officers of criminal charges in the case.
Warren, 44, is in state prison serving a 20-year sentence in state prison related to an attempted murder charge in the injury to the Hoover officer.
Warren sued under federal civil rights laws in addition to asserting state claims for assault and battery against the five police officers. Under federal civil rights laws, the officers’ liability was unlimited and could have included the possibility of an award for punitive damages, city officials said.
Judges had dismissed civil claims against Birmingham, Hoover and several police officers. Officers Kenneth Prevo, David Doran, Barrett Dewitt, Thomas Cleveland, and Heath Boackle were the only officers remaining in the case when it was settled.
None of the defendants admitted liability and each party agreed not to file any appeals from any prior court orders, which puts an end to this six year old lawsuit.
Attorney Wendy Brooks Crew represented Warren, while Michael Choy represented the officers on the city’s behalf.
Attorneys Alyson Hood-Rains and Cameron L Hogan also represented Warren at the civil trial. Elizabeth Shirley also represented the officers.
Fair or foul?