January 27th, 1967
Black Man Killed in Birmingham, Alabama, during Arrest for Failure to Take Dog to Veterinarian
On January 27, 1967, Jefferson County sheriff deputies went to the home of Robert Lacey, a black father of six, because Mr. Lacey had failed to take the family dog to the veterinarian after it bit a neighborhood child. The health department had instructed the family to take the dog in for a rabies test, but the family did not own a car and had no means of transporting the animal.
The deputies knocked at the door as Mr. Lacey was getting out of the shower, and when he answered the door they told him to get dressed and go with them. Mr. Lacey asked why and told the deputies to just take the dog. The deputies said they weren’t interested in the dog and told him to get dressed. As Mr. Lacey was doing so, a gun he kept in his dresser fell to the floor. In response, the deputies pushed Mr. Lacey against the wall and attempted to handcuff him. Mr. Lacey offered to walk to the car with them, but one of the deputies said, “Boy, you gonna leave here with handcuffs on, dead or alive.”
Mr. Lacey was a large man; as the deputies attempted to wrestle him down, one of them fell to the ground, and the other then shot Mr. Lacey in the leg. The deputies later claimed Mr. Lacey lunged at them before the second shot, but Mr. Lacey’s family insisted Mr. Lacey fell to the ground before the deputy shot him again, “between the eyes.” Neighbors who ran to the house after the shooting were instructed by police to move the body before the coroner arrived.
Mr. Lacey’s death marked the second black man killed by Jefferson County law enforcement within nine days, and would be one of ten total law enforcement killings of black men in the Birmingham, Alabama, area within a 14 month period spanning from 1966 to 1967.