Photo captures two Birmingham officers reuniting after horrific crash

Photo captures two Birmingham officers reuniting after horrific crash

Two Birmingham police officers injured when a homicide suspect barreled into their patrol cruiser continue to recover at UAB Hospital.

The officers – a rookie and his field training officer – saw each other Sunday for the first time since the horrific crash on Friday night. Amy Douglas, a friend of one of the officers, was with them and captured the powerful moment the two gripped hands.

“I just took the picture and I love it,” said Douglas, who shared the photo with AL.com. “These officers are two of the very best around.”

One of the officers is still on the training car after just graduating from the Birmingham Police Academy on March 17. The other is a veteran officer who was honored earlier this year by supervisors for his work as a field training officer, and for his devotion to responding to Shot Spotter calls.

Birmingham Mayor William Bell and Police Chief A.C. Roper also both visited the officers Sunday; Bell in the afternoon and the chief Sunday night.

“Both officers were in good spirits and recovering well from and assorted list of injuries,” Roper said. “These are two of our taller officers at 6’10” and 6’8” so it was a challenge extricating them from the patrol car, which actually looked as if a bomb exploded.”

“Our men and women in uniform risk their lives every day for the safety of all of our citizens,” Bell said. “We are thankful, and appreciate their sacrifice.”

Friday night’s bizarre series of events began just before 9 p.m. when police say 17-year-old DeMarcus Daniels had reportedly stolen a credit card from his grandmother to go buy an iPhone. Daniels’ father went looking for him, spotted him on Jefferson Avenue and began to follow his son, who was driving the vehicle. Xzavier McWillie, 16, was Daniels’ passenger.

Officers working the homicide scene spotted the possible suspect vehicle. They confirmed that it was in fact the suspects and a pursuit began. Another patrol car was waiting at the intersection of 18th and Grant, Sgt. Bryan Shelton said. The suspects’ vehicle made its way to that area and collided with the patrol car sitting at 18th and Grant. The two officers were T-boned by a suspect fleeing the deadly shooting.

Someone from inside the car started shooting, and one of those bullets struck an innocent motorist – 20-year-old Antonio Brooks – who just happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time. Brooks then crashed into a house in the 1700 block of Jefferson Avenue and was pronounced dead on the scene, becoming the city’s 50th homicide victim in 2017. Two people in Brooks’ vehicle were hospitalized with injuries.

Authorities quickly learned that Daniels streamed the entire crash on Facebook Live. According to that video, obtained by AL.com, the suspect was driving through the area and remarking on all the flashing blue police lights. At one point during the video, he is heard saying, “Damn, free me man.” It also appears he said, “Want me to hit (them)?”

The video continues after the violent crash, where officers can be heard ordering the suspects out of the car. “These criminals are foolish enough to post this stuff live hoping to get their three minutes of fame, but that three minutes could get them 30 years in prison,” said Lt. Sean Edwards.

Birmingham police on Sunday night announced formal charges of Daniels and McWillie. The teens are charged with attempted murder and discharging a firearm into an occupied vehicle. Their bonds are set at $600,000. They have not yet been charged in Brooks’ death, but Birmingham police said additional charges are possible.

Roper said he’s thankful both officers survived. “This incident,” he said, “is an unfortunate reminder of the selfless sacrifice and inherent risks of this profession.”

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Published at Mon, 03 Jul 2017 18:38:16 +0000