BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WIAT) — Community activists are calling for the firing of two Birmingham Police Officers after family members said a child was pepper sprayed during an arrest attempt Sunday at the Kingston Public Housing Community.
Black Lives Matter, Democratic Socialists of America, other community groups, and members of the Bozeman family held a news conference Monday after video of the incident was posted to social media.
Birmingham Police said the incident is still under investigation by internal affairs, but said a review of responding officers’ body cameras appeared to show family members refusing to comply with officers’ commands. Birmingham Police allowed the media to view the body camera footage, but said the department could not release it publicly due to the ongoing investigation.
“There were several instances where the citizens disregarded the officer’s instructions which eventually led to the officers attempting to make an arrest,” said Lt. Sean Edwards in a statement.
Patrice Bozeman told CBS 42 she was having a party for her 5-year-old daughter.
Birmingham Police said officers were responding to loud music at the birthday party for the second time. Officers said the music contained profanity.
Even though police said it is against housing authority policy to host unapproved parties, officers said they were instructing family members to turn the music down.
According to Lt. Edwards’ statement, the citizens were “not compliant,” so officers made a decision to arrest the instigator.
Police said the citizen resisted arrest, and other family members shoved the officer, leading to an escalation.
One of the officers used pepper spray, but other family members attempted to intervene, police said.
Bozeman and 3 others were arrested for various charges including, disorderly conduct, resisting arrest, and public intoxication.
A child was knocked off a bicycle during the incident, but was not seriously hurt, according to police.
The Bozeman family said that the responding officers frequent the area, but family members told CBS 42 they felt Sunday’s incident was harassment.
“‘Y’all maced the whole porch, even the children got hit,” said Patrice Bozeman.
Family members and several of the community groups called for two officers to be fired.
CBS42 asked Birmingham Police if they would show the Black Lives Matter Birmingham group the body cam video they showed our reporter today. Lt. Sean Edwards responded via email, “Absolutely not.”
Birmingham Police said the incident remains under investigation. A full statement sent to the media via email at 2:50 p.m. is available here:
The Birmingham Police Department is aware of the incident and we’re always concerned when one of our citizens has an allegation regarding our officers so we will conduct a full investigation.
From a preliminary review of the officer’s body camera footage, there were several instances where the citizens disregarded the officer’s instructions which eventually led to the officers attempting to make an arrest.
Although it is against Housing Authority policy to host unapproved house parties, the officers simply advised the family to turn the music down, they complied and the officers departed the area. However; while on patrol later, officers heard the music with such profane language even louder than before.
Officers approached the group which was outside and asked them again to turn the music down. During the course of that exchange, the citizens were not compliant so the officers made a decision to arrest the instigator. At that time the citizen resisted and even shoved the officer which led to the escalation. The primary officer used his spray on the one subject but other family members attempted to intervene and prevent her arrest. Eventually four citizens were arrested for various charges including Disorderly Conduct, Resisting Arrest, and Public Intoxication. During the course of the struggle, a kid was knocked off his bicycle. Paramedics were dispatched to treat any injured parties and the 4 citizens were transported to the Birmingham City Jail.
In regards to the gunshots heard later on the video, other patrol officers responded to investigate.
Also, please send a representative to headquarters because I would like to share a video of the incident with you@3pm.