Video released Wednesday from an officer’s body camera shows NBA rookie Sterling Brown being wrestled to the ground by multiple cops during a confrontation over his use of handicapped parking spaces in a Walgreen’s parking lot.
The video, released by Milwaukee Police Chief Alfonso Morales, captures police shouting to deploy a stun gun on Brown, 23, the Milwaukee Bucks shooting guard, during the Jan. 26 arrest, which they did. Brown, who is black, was not charged.
Chief Morales, reading from a statement during Wednesday’s news conference, apologized and said the officers involved had been punished. “Members acted inappropriately, and those members were recently disciplined,” he said. “I’m sorry this incident escalated to this level.”
The incident has been criticized as another example of excessive police force used against African-Americans.
As the imagery was released Wednesday, Brown issued a statement saying, “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.”
The video shows that on the night of the confrontation, an officer noticed that the vehicle Brown was apparently driving, a Mercedes sedan, was parked across two disabled spots at the drugstore. A police official said during the news conference that the names of the officers involved would not be released yet.
One cop soon accused Brown of “obstructing me,” getting “in my grill,” and not stepping back, according to the video. But it doesn’t appear that Brown ever moves toward the officer. When multiple cops arrive as backup, the initial officer at first protests. “All I wanted was one or two out here,” he says on the video.
The cops question Brown and order him to take his hands out of his pockets before tackling him and piling on. “Taser! Taser! Taser!” one is heard yelling as Brown groans. With Brown restrained, officers with flashlights search his vehicle.
In his statement, Brown ties his case to those of unarmed black men confronted, attacked and often killed by police: “Dontre Hamilton of Milwaukee, Laquan McDonald of Chicago, Stephon Clark of Sacramento, Eric Garnerof New York, and the list goes on.”
“The common denominator in all of these situations has been racism towards the minority community, the abuse of power, and the lack of accountability for officers involved,” he said.
Brown said he would file suit against the Milwaukee Police Department.
Conversely, the Milwaukee Police Association released a pointed statement directed at the city leadership and the public saying, “Use of Force will never look pretty, but it is – unfortunately, a necessary component of policing.”
The statement then blames an understaffed force for police errors, despite Brown’s confrontation involving multiple officers. “The city may be complicit in the death of subjects, or in the greater use of force in many situations that have occurred. This is due primarily, or solely, because a one-officer squad responded; and/or ill-equipped officers responded,” the 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,” the statement reads.