The Milwaukee Police Department issued an apology on Wednesday and released body cam video showing a January 26 2 a.m. incident during a parking violation enforcement stop in which some of the department’s officers swarmed and tased apparently cooperative 6-foot-6 NBA guard Sterling Brown of the Milwaukee Bucks.
Video of the incident can be seen in its entirety below. The tasing incident happens shortly after the 8 minute mark.
The video contradicts initial police reports that described Brown as combative and instead show the responding officer taking an aggressive and belittling tone. Rather than simply issuing the ticket and moving on, the officer continued probing the rookie Bucks guard with antagonizing questions and called for backup, telling officers that Brown had gotten “right up in my face.” This resulted in a swarm of officers tackling Brown as another deployed a taser on him. Brown was issued a traffic ticket and arrested for resisting or obstructing an officer. However, police supervisors refused to refer the resisting or obstructing an officer charge to prosecutors after watching the body cam video.
As previously reported, Milwaukee city officials prepared for backlash in advance of the release of body cam footage.
Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel reporter Ashley Luthern published a police statement apologizing for the incident on her Twitter account, which can be seen below.
— Ashley Luthern (@aluthern) May 23, 2018
Milwaukee Police indicated that officers involved in the incident had been “disciplined.” The responding officer Joseph Grams, who first confronted Sterling Brown, was reportedly suspended for 2 days according to the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel. Two supervisors, identified as Jeffrey S. Krueger and Sean A. Mahnke, were also suspended, one for 10 days and the other for 15 days, though it is not yet known which supervisor received which length of suspension.
The Milwaukee Bucks released a statement on the incident, saying, “The abuse and intimidation that Sterling experienced at the hands of Milwaukee Police was shameful and inexcusable. Sterling has our full support as he shares his story and takes action to provide accountability. Unfortunately, this isn’t an isolated case. 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.”
Fox Sports notes that Sterling Brown released a statement on the incident, indicating that he plans to sue the Milwaukee Police Department, “My experience in January with the Milwaukee Police Department was wrong and shouldn’t happen to anybody. What should have been a simple parking ticket turned into an attempt at police intimidation, followed by the unlawful use of physical force, including being handcuffed and tased, and then unlawfully booked. 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.”
He added, “Situations like mine and worse happen every day in the black community. Being a voice and a face for people who won’t be heard and don’t have the same platform as I have is a responsibility I take seriously. I am speaking for Dontre Hamilton of Milwaukee, Laquan McDonald of Chicago, Stephon Clark of Sacramento, Eric Garner of New York, and the list goes on. These people aren’t able to speak anymore because of unjust actions by those who are supposed to ‘serve and protect’ the people… 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. Peaceful support to ensure no further damage to our community is the only way to respond. I know many of you will share my anger and frustration, but for our community to progress and grow, we need to build on what we already have and not destroy it. I will take legal action against the Milwaukee Police Department to continue forcing change in our community.”
According to Yahoo Sports, Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett, who said that he found the officers’ behavior “offensive,” said, “I am very sorry the Milwaukee police treated him in the fashion he was treated.”
The Milwaukee Police Association, the union representing the officers in question, deflected blame for the incident in a statement seen below and suggested that city leaders were to blame for the behavior, claiming that officers are understaffed and at risk, despite the fact that in the incident several officers were responding to what was a parking violation.
The Milwaukee Police Association, union for rank-and-file officers, has released a statement on the Sterling Brown video/arrest: pic.twitter.com/Jb5fV7SzxX
— Ashley Luthern (@aluthern) May 24, 2018
Police use-of-force trainer Robert Willis discusses where the officers’ behavior deviated from protocols in a below video by Today’s TMJ4.