For Immediate Release
Wednesday, April 12, 2017
, United States Attorney
Robert O. Posey
Contact: Peggy Sanford
Three-Time Felon Sentenced to 10 Years in Prison for Taking Officer’s Gun and Beating Him Unconscious
Nashville Field Division
BIRMINGHAM – A federal judge on Tuesday sentenced a Birmingham man and three-time convicted felon to 10 years in prison on a gun charged related to the 2015 pistol-whipping of a Birmingham police detective that left the officer unconscious and seriously injured, announced Acting U.S. Attorney Robert O. Posey and Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives Special Agent in Charge Steven L. Gerido.
U.S. District Court Judge R. David Proctor sentenced JANARD SHAMAR CUNNINGHAM, 36, on one count of being a convicted felon in possession of a firearm. The gun Cunningham possessed was the detective’s service weapon, which he drew from the officer’s holster during a struggle in August 2015 at Roebuck Shopping Center. Cunningham pleaded guilty to the charge in August 2016. He is in federal custody.
“The president and Attorney General Jeff Sessions have made it clear that prosecuting violent crimes committed against police officers is a top priority of the Department of Justice,” Posey said. “Our office will use all the tools at our disposal to aggressively pursue these cases.”
“Violent attacks on police officers will not be tolerated,” Gerido said. “This officer suffered grave injuries while doing his job protecting the public.”
Cunningham has three previous felony convictions, including breaking and entering a vehicle, first-degree robbery and second-degree assault, according to his federal plea agreement.
Cunningham’s assault on Birmingham Detective Johnny Brooks followed an incident about 11 a.m. Aug. 7, 2015, on Parkway East, where Detective Brooks was driving an unmarked police car. According to Cunningham’s plea, the events unfolded as follows:
Cunningham was driving a maroon GMC sport utility vehicle and came up swiftly behind the detective’s car and began tailgating. He then pulled quickly around Detective Brooks’ car, blew the truck’s horn and sped off at about 60 mph. Detective Brooks flashed his blue lights and called the dispatcher for a marked unit to come to the scene and make a traffic stop.
Before that could happen, Detective Brooks followed the SUV into Roebuck Shopping Center. Witnesses reported Cunningham got out of his truck in front of a clothing store and walked back toward Detective Brooks, who ordered him to get back into his vehicle. Cunningham did not comply and, instead, attacked the officer, taking his service pistol and using it to beat the detective unconscious.
Two Birmingham Police officers on patrol saw the maroon GMC truck speed from the shopping center and tried to stop him, but Cunningham refused to yield. Other Birmingham officers searching for the vehicle soon located it on Shadywood Drive, where Cunningham surrendered. Officers recovered Detective Brooks’ service pistol in Cunningham’s car.
ATF and Birmingham Police Department investigated the case, which Assistant U.S. Attorney William G. Simpson prosecuted.