Birmingham police chief talks investigation, lessons learned and healing

Kamille "Cupcake" McKinney

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WIAT) — Birmingham Police Chief Patrick Smith joined Art Franklin Thursday morning to provide insight on the murder of Kamille “Cupcake” McKinney. See part one of the interview in the video above.

Suspects Patrick Stallworth and Derrick Brown are in custody. Police are working to get murder warrants for the two.

Chief Smith explained, “There’s still a lot of investigation work to be done. Keep in mind, investigations are like putting pieces together in a person. From day one we have been gathering evidence, talking to everyone in the area. Everyone has different pieces of the puzzle, so we can draw a picture of what occurred when it occurred and exactly who is responsible.”

Investigators must present evidence to prosecutors to help get a conviction on the case. Chief Smith explained the process. 

“In order to make an arrest, we have to feel confident we have the right people in custody. We’re doing everything we can to close every single loop. Our investigators have stayed on this case 24 hours a day. This was personal. This was a little child. No one was willing to back off no one was willing to take a break until we knew and were fairly confident, very confident that we had the right people, we know what we’re doing, and we’re conducting a systematic investigation.”

Suspects Patrick Stallworth and Derrick Brown

Art Franklin asked about whether there were any motives confirmed in the case so far. 

“Motives are often hard to prove. It’s just a very unfortunate thing for the city,” Smith said. Chief Smith was unable to go into details of the investigation to fully answer. 

“What we’re trying to do is narrow down the roles of various people, what they saw, where they were and if they were involved in this investigation. So far we have been able to arrest two people we feel are totally responsible for this.”

How critical is the surveillance video?

“That was very critical to what we were trying to do. This was not very far from the party at all. Just two little children who strayed slightly away…and it only takes a split second,” Smith said.

How is the work ethic of the officers?

“I honestly couldn’t be more proud of the work ethic of the officers involved. There were people who came in that wanted to get out there. Because this was personal, this was a little child and everyone wanted to everything they can and could at that time to bring this baby back home.”

Watch part two of the interview in the video above.

Smith explained the support received by many who helped Birmingham police.

Smith said, “We placed so much into this. We placed an entire team working on this [case] 24 hours a day. I can’t say it was just BPD, it was FBI, there were volunteers all over that came to assist us in searching, CrimeStoppers who jumped right  in to help raise money for a reward in addition to a number of agencies, our DA Danny Carr was there at the police station every day of the week checking on the investigation and providing insight. There were a lot of people that helped along the way, I can’t thank them enough.”

How did this case affect law enforcement?

Chief Smith said, “I don’t want anyone, whether it is a community or those in law enforcement to forget lessons learned, this was a very critical incident, a significant, emotional incident for the community and law enforcement. Everyone wanted to lend a hand and we’re grateful for that.”

How does the city of Birmingham heal from this?

“One step at a time, this isn’t something that will happen overnight. As chief, I sat and watched and was a part of a tremendous investigation into a missing child. I watched as the city transformed from the ‘Magic City’ to the ‘Cupcake City’ because everyone in the city was impacted by this three-year-old little child. It’s going to take us a little time for us to heal. I never want us to forget the lessons learned in this or forget what we lost in this little child.”

What is the major takeaway?

“The main thing: we got to be that community that watch over our children, watch over our neighbor’s children and keep them close. We got to recognize that this is the future and we have to protect it,” said Smith. 

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