An Alabama police officer staged a shooting last month to make it look like he was under attack and then radioed in a fake distress call, officials revealed Thursday.
Buchanan told the dispatcher he was about to perform a traffic stop on F.L. Shuttlesworth Drive near Cedar Street, and then, moments later, his voice reappeared on the airwaves shouting ‘shots fired’.
The officer, described as a veteran, never finished his traffic stop radio transmission and the line fell silent.
A frantic scramble to locate Buchanan and his vehicle was launched by Birmingham Police Department.
Birmingham Police Officer Keith Buchanan was taken into custody and charged with making a false report, criminal mischief, and discharging a firearm in city limits
Buchanan told the dispatcher he was about to perform a traffic stop on F.L. Shuttlesworth Drive near Cedar Street, and then, moments later, his voice reappeared on the airwaves shouting ‘shots fired’
Officers located his patrol car first, noting the windshield had been pierced by two bullet holes.
The deputy was later found conscious but not communicative down by some near-by railroad tracks. Birmingham Police Chief Patrick Smith said he was just ‘moaning’ on the ground.
Believing him to be injured, Buchanan was rushed to a local hospital but doctors confirmed he was unharmed.
Chief Smith said investigators determined the event was staged after they, ‘found nothing to support the officer’s account of this incident.’
Investigators believe Buchanan shot his own windscreen before feigning injury by the tracks.
‘Our investigation has concluded that this entire event was a hoax, the radio call, the shots fired, the help call, lying injured on the tracks, the damage to the police car, all a hoax,’ Smith said during a Saturday news conference.
‘I can’t say it enough: we will always be in relentless pursuit of our suspects, even when one of those suspects is one of our own.’
Chief Smith said investigators determined the event was staged after they, ‘found nothing to support the officer’s account of this incident’
Investigators believe Buchanan shot his own windscreen (shown above) before feigning injury by the tracks
Smith said they are seeking charges against Buchanan. He was taken into custody and charged with making a false report, criminal mischief, and discharging a firearm in city limits.
Buchanan has been placed on administrative leave with pay for 30 days and his fate will be determined pending the outcome of an internal affairs investigation, AL.com reported .
It’s unclear whether Buchanan has an attorney who could comment. Records show he has a history of unspecified disciplinary issues spanning between 2014 and 2016.
Smith noted that the incident came during a year where officers have recently been killed or wounded in the line of duty.
The chief added he believes Buchanan’s actions have deteriorated the trust built up between the department and the community and said the incident was a case of ‘stolen valor’ and ‘stolen honor.’
‘This officer did a lot on that night to present a false image of heroism,’ Smith said.
‘He endangered the lives of the community by discharging his firearm, and also other officers, as they responded from all over the city to be at his side and do everything that they can to help.’