A look back at Birmingham's most bizarre court case

We've taken a look back at one of Birmingham's most bizarre court cases
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It is Birmingham’s most bizarre court case – none others have an Apache on this one! 

Yet history has forgotten the day two native American Indians, fresh from the Wild West prairies and in full attire, appeared in the dock for going on the warpath along Lichfield Road. At Aston Police Court, famed cowboy and stunt-rider Broncho Bill acted as their interpreter.

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“Black Bird” and “Choice” arrived here as part of Buffalo Bill’s travelling show that delighted audiences at Aston Lower Grounds through November, 1887.  And they evidently took a liking to our pubs and our “fire water”. The pair appeared in court on November 30 after causing a booze-filled ruckus the night before. 

Both were charged with drunkenness in a public place, Black Bird was also accused of causing 16 shillings worth of damage to a police sergeant’s uniform. 

A newspaper clipping from the National Archives states: “The noble savages, who were enveloped in their blankets during the progress of their proceedings, did not appear to be impressed with the dignity of an English court of justice judging by the frequency with which they united and nodded at the magistrates clerk.” 

The brief case caused a stir, with every public seat inside the court taken and a large crowd outside.  Constable Lowe told magistrates he was called to the Reservoir Tavern and found Black Bird “behaving in an indecent manner, foaming at the mouth and very drunk.” 

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The report states: “He was nearly naked, having divested himself of his blanket and other clothing. With the assistance of five or six other men, Police Constable Lowe succeeded in handcuffing the prisoner and putting him into a handcart.” 

Choice was also at the scene and heavily inebriated. Speaking for Black Bird, Broncho Bill told the court: “He knows he was brought here and that’s all he knows.  He admits he was drunk and had some whisky, but he said he knows nothing about damaging the officer’s uniform.” 

The charge of drunkenness was dismissed on the payment of costs, but Black Bird was fined one shilling and costs for damage to the uniform. He was also ordered to pay 16 shillings damages. 

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