Birmingham, AL – A Birmingham police officer was fired and arrested after his chief announced that the officer had staged an armed attack on himself in the line of duty.
“I’m here to talk about stolen valor, stolen honor, and an attempt to stage a shooting that has left this department polarized and hanging its head low in disbelief,” Birmingham Police Chief Patrick Smith told reporters assembled for a press conference.
The incident occurred as Birmingham Police Officer Keith Buchanan was patrolling a rural road near Tarrant on July 21, WBRC reported.
Officer Buchanan, a seven-year veteran of the Birmingham Police Department, called out with a traffic stop, and then he “put out a help call with shots being fired in the background,” Chief Smith told reporters.
“For approximately 30 minutes, our communications dispatchers were unable to reach him,” he said.
Dispatchers tried to reach Officer Buchanan on the radio as officers search the area.
He wasn’t found until a man called Tarrant police and reported an abandoned police car on the railroad tracks with a bullet hole through the window, CNN reported.
Tarrant police rushed to the scene and found the car and Officer Buchanan.
A Tarrant officer put out a call requesting all possible assistance at 1:23 a.m., WHNT reported.
The officer appeared to be unconscious and was clutching his gun and moaning, CNN reported.
Birmingham police, University of Alabama – Birmingham (UAB) police, and Jefferson County sheriff’s deputies blocked off roads to create a swift path for the ambulance that transported Officer Buchanan to UAB Hospital’s Trauma Center, WHNT reported.
It wasn’t until he arrived at the hospital that they discovered the officer hadn’t been shot and actually had “no significant injuries.”
Investigators scoured the area where Officer Buchanan was found and talked to witnesses, CNN reported.
They also collected video evidence.
Chief Smith said that all the evidence police collected led back to Officer Buchanan.
“We found nothing to support the officer’s account of this incident,” the chief said.
“Our investigation has concluded that this entire event was a hoax,” he said. “This officer did a lot on that night to present a false image of heroism.”
As soon as investigators determined that Officer Buchanan had staged the fake assault, Chief Smith put the officer on administrative leave and took his gun and badge, CNN reported.
Birmingham Police Sergeant Johnny Williams said that Officer Buchanan was arrested on Aug. 1 and charged with making a false police report, criminal mischief, and discharging a firearm in city limits, WBRC reported
He was released on $2,000 bond the next morning.
Officer Buchanan has been assigned to the North Precinct since he joined the police force and had faced discipline in the past for breaking department policy, WHNT reported.
Jefferson County Personnel Board records showed that the officer was reprimanded in 2016 for filing a false report in relation to a public intoxication arrest he made.
Then in July of 2015, Officer Buchanan took a stolen gun from a suspect and kept it, WHNT reported.
County records showed that the officer kept the gun for four months before he notified a supervisor. Then Officer Buchanan falsified a report to say he had just found the weapon in November of 2015.
The Birmingham Fraternal Order of Police (FOP) Lodge # 1 had nothing to say in defense of Officer Buchanan.
“From a fraternal order of police standpoint, whenever an officer’s integrity is called into question, it sets the organization back and causes issues with us building public trust or keeping the public’s trust,” FOP Spokesman Lieutenant Richard Haluska told WBRC.