Police Dept. Apologizes To Bucks Player They Arrested
24 May, 2018
The Milwaukee Police Department apologized Wednesday and said officers who “acted inappropriately” have been disciplined after an internal investigation over an incident in which a stun gun was used on Milwaukee Bucks rookie Sterling Brown after he was questioned over a potential parking violation in January.
Body camera video of the incident was released by the police shortly after Milwaukee Police Chief Alfonso Morales’ news conference. Criminal charges against Brown were not pursued, Morales said in a statement that was read to gathered media.
“I am sorry this incident escalated to this level,” said Morales, who did not take questions from reporters. Brown, then 22, was arrested in a Walgreens parking lot at about 2 a.m. local time on Jan. 26.
Eight minutes into the 30-minute video, an officer can be seen and heard loudly telling Brown to remove his hands from his pockets.
“Leave me alone,” Brown appears to say. “I’ve got stuff in my hands.”
Several officers then converge on Brown in an apparent effort to subdue him, and a struggle ensues.
“Taser! Taser! Taser!” an officer can be heard yelling at the 8:40 mark of the video, after which Brown can be heard grunting several times.
The video later shows police reviewing papers and combing through Brown’s car.
One officer also can be heard saying to another, “He was being an ass and trying to hide something.”
Brown, who has said he plans to file a lawsuit against the Milwaukee PD, said in a statement that the experience “has forced me to stand up and tell my story so that I can help prevent these injustices from happening in the future.”
“What should have been a simple parking ticket turned into an attempt at police intimidation, followed by unlawful use of physical force, including being handcuffed and tased and then unlawfully booked,” Brown said. “This experience with the Milwaukee Police Department has forced me to stand up and tell my story so that I can help prevent these injustices from happening in the future.”
The video begins with a single officer approaching Brown, whose late-model Mercedes appears to be parked vertically across three lanes.
“You don’t see the issue here? You’re not parked across three lanes?” the officer asks Brown as the Bucks guard casually approaches.
The two then begin arguing about the officer having asked Brown to “back up” and whether there was contact between them.
“These are simple questions, and you’re being all badass,” the officer says after asking Brown for his name and after Brown had responded, “Sterling Brown.”
Later, three minutes into the video, a police car siren can be heard before a vehicle with flashing sirens approaches in the street.
Brown then asks what’s going on.
“You had time to park across these lanes here, so we’re going to wait a little longer,” the officer says, indicating he was waiting for backup to arrive before proceeding.
Another police vehicle can then be seen entering the camera frame.
“I just wanted one,” the initial officer says.
Brown continues to speak with several officers as the dialogue becomes muted, with the initial officer wearing a camera slowly walking around Brown’s car.
“Black men shouldn’t have to have their guard up and instantly be on the defensive when seeing a police officer, but it’s a reality and a real problem,” Brown said in his statement. “There must be mutual respect, and both sides have to figure out how to accomplish this.
“This is bigger than me. My family, friends, legal team, Priority Sports, Milwaukee Bucks, the black community and the communities of all who stand against injustice plan to continue the fight.”
In a lengthy statement of support released by the Bucks, the team said the “abuse and intimidation that Sterling experienced at the hands of Milwaukee Police was shameful and inexcusable.”
“Unfortunately, this isn’t an isolated case,” the Bucks’ statement said. “It shouldn’t require an incident involving a professional athlete to draw attention to the fact that vulnerable people in our communities have experienced similar, and even worse, treatment.
“We are grateful for the service of many good police officers that courageously protect us, our fans and our city, but racial biases and abuses of power must not be ignored.
“There needs to be more accountability.”
The video represents another setback for a department that for years has tried to rebuild its image and relationship with Milwaukee’s African-American residents after several high-profile cases of police misconduct.
“I find it disturbing that an officer would incite an argument over a parking citation,” said Fred Royal, the president of the NAACP in Milwaukee. He said he “didn’t see anything that would warrant (Brown) to get tased.”
Milwaukee police said Wednesday there are other versions of body-cam footage that were captured the night of Brown’s arrest. ESPN has requested that footage but, it was not released Wednesday.
Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett said Monday that after viewing the video he was concerned about public backlash over the officers’ conduct. He said Morales also had a similar reaction.
“I’m going to let the release of that speak for itself, but yes, I definitely have concerns after watching that video,” Barrett told reporters Monday.
“So if there’s ever an incident where one of our members makes a mistake, unnecessarily escalating a situation, I’m going to be honest and transparent about it,” he said.
“In those instances where we have made mistakes and are wrong, I’m sorry,” Morales added.
The Bucks signed the 6-foot-6 guard from SMU last summer in a deal with the Philadelphia 76ers, who selected him in the second round of the 2017 draft. He averaged 4.0 points and 2.6 rebounds this past season.
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