Birmingham, AL – The Birmingham police chief held a press conference on Thursday morning to announce an arrest in the case of murdered Birmingham Police Sergeant Wytasha Carter.
“He will be transported to our jail wearing the handcuffs owned by Sgt. Carter,” Birmingham Police Chief Patrick Smith told reporters.
Jeremy Owens, 31, was taken into custody by Alabama State Bureau of Investigation agents and Birmingham police upon his release from the University of Alabama – Birmingham’s Spain Rehabilitation Center, AL.com reported.
Sgt. Carter, 44, was murdered on Jan. 13 when he responded to a backup request from another officer investigating a series of car break-ins.
Chief Smith explained why it had taken a month to formally arrest and charge Owens, who has been under guard in medical facilities since he was wounded in the altercation that killed Sgt. Carter.
He said he wanted the outside agency to have enough time to make a very strong case.
“And when we put someone in custody, our goal is not to just make an arrest, our goal is prosecution,” the chief said.
Chief Smith told reporters that the best approach was to put the pieces of the puzzle together and then make a very strong arrest, with the handcuffs that Sgt. Carter carried on duty.
“You know, the whole purpose is delivering justice for the Carter family and also for Sgt. Carter,” he explained. “And so I only felt that it was fitting that if this man is going to jail, we’re going to use Sgt. Carter’s handcuffs to take him because that’s only closing the loop on Sgt. Carter’s loss of life.”
“Sgt. Carter was an incredible officer, an incredible sergeant, an honorable man, and a great person for this department, and this is one small way that we can honor him,” Chief Smith said, with tears in his eyes.
The chief said he had told the victims’ families that the prosecution of Owens was a marathon rather than a sprint, but that the department would stand beside them through all of it.
“Our victims deserve justice and as long as I have breath, and as long as I’m your chief, I’m going to give everything that I can to ensure that these victims receive that justice that they so much deserve,” he promised.
Chief Smith did not release any new details of what exactly happened on the night Sgt. Carter was fatally shot and Officer Lucas Allums was seriously wounded.
What is known is that the incident occurred at approximately 2 a.m. on Jan. 13 outside the Four Seasons Bar and Grill, when an undercover officer saw two suspects checking the doors on parked vehicles outside the business, FOX News reported.
The officer radioed for backup, and Sgt. Carter responded to the scene.
“The officers approached one suspect and patted him down where they found what they believed to be a weapon,'' Chief Smith said at a press conference at the time. “They asked him about it, he armed himself and fired upon our officers.”
The attack unfolded rapidly, the chief said.
"What I can tell you is it appears our officers were unable to respond,'' he explained. “They were taken completely by surprise. We can’t go into great detail because we are still in the infancy stage of the investigation.”
Sgt. Carter and Officer Allums were rushed to the University of Alabama – Birmingham Hospital’s Trauma Center, where the sergeant later died.
Officer Allums has since been released from the hospital and is recovering at home.
“Both of them were shot in very critical areas,” Chief Smith said.
Owens, who was wounded during the altercation, was also transported to the trauma center.
He has been charged with two counts of capital murder, two counts of attempted murder, certain persons forbidden to possess a pistol, third-degree receiving stolen property, and first-degree possession of marijuana, AL.com reported.