A Birmingham Police officer faked a shooting for 'stolen valor,' his chief says

Posted at 8:02 PM, Aug 02, 2019

A Birmingham, Alabama, police officer radioed for help, with the sound of gunfire in the background. His chief says it was a hoax and an attempt at "stolen valor."

Officer Keith Buchanan was arrested Thursday after police said he faked a call for help and injuries while on duty last month. Birmingham Police said he was charged with false reporting, criminal mischief and discharging a firearm in city limits.

Buchanan had already been relieved of duty, Police Chief Patrick Smith said, and every case he handled is now under review.

The officer was patrolling a rural road near Tarrant about 1 a.m. July 21. He radioed in to report that he was making a traffic stop, CNN affiliate WVTM reported.

Then, "Buchanan put out a help call with shots being fired in the background," Smith said Thursday. "For approximately 30 minutes, our communications dispatchers were unable to reach him."

Several other officers rushed out but were not able to find him, and dispatchers could not reach him.

Then, a call came in from a resident who reported an abandoned police vehicle on the railroad tracks with a bullet hole through the front window.

Tarrant Police officers rushed to the scene. Smith says they found the car and Buchanan on the ground, "appearing to be unconscious and holding his gun and moaning from his injuries."

At a hospital, the officer was found to have "no significant injuries," according to WVTM.

Investigators scoured the scene for evidence about who fired the shots, collecting video and witness statements. Smith says it all led back to Buchanan.

"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."

Smith relieved Buchanan of duty, put him on administrative leave and confiscated his badge, gun and ID.

Neither Buchanan nor the Alabama Police Benevolent Association, which provides representation to member officers, has responded to requests for comment.

Buchanan had been assigned to the department's North Precinct since his graduation from the police academy on July 2, 2012, Birmingham Police said.

He was reprimanded for filing false police reports in 2015 and 2016, according to an report that cited records from the Jefferson County Personnel Board. The board has not responded to CNN's request to review the records.