NBA Player Vows to Sue Milwaukee Police for Being Tased After Parking Violation
By Malika Andrews
Milwaukee police on Wednesday released footage captured by a body camera that shows Bucks rookie and Maywood native Sterling Brown, 23, being arrested and police using a Taser on him after a parking violation.
The incident occured at 2 a.m. on Jan. 26. Officers doing a routine check at a Walgreens near the BMO Harris Bradley Center -- the Bucks' home arena -- found a car parked across two handicapped spaces.
The 30-minute video begins with an officer asking Brown for his driver's license. Seconds later, the officer gruffly tells Brown to "back up."
Four minutes and 20 seconds into the video, two additional police cars pull into the parking lot. Brown is standing outside his vehicle, hands in his pockets, speaking with the officers. The conversation is difficult to decipher.
After eight minutes, an officer yells, "Take your hands out of your pockets, now." Brown, who was not resisting, appears to say, "Leave me alone. I've got stuff in my hands," before he is tackled to the ground by at least six officers.
"Taser, Taser, Taser," one officer yells.
An officer later is heard saying to another, "He was being an ass and trying to hide something."
Brown, a Proviso East alumnus who was 22 at the time, was arrested, but no criminal charges were filed. He released a statement on Twitter after the video was released.
"My experience in January with the Milwaukee Police Department was wrong and shouldn't happen to anybody," Brown wrote. "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."
He went on to say he will take legal action against the Milwaukee Police Department. Brown has retained lawyer Mark Thomsen to file a federal civil rights lawsuit.
"I am sorry this incident escalated to this level," Milwaukee Police Chief Alfonso Morales said in a statement.
Morales did not take questions from the media.
The Bucks released a statement that read in part: "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."
"There needs to be more accountability," the team statement went on to say.
This is not the first time Milwaukee police conduct toward black citizens has been under the microscope. In 2016, 23-year-old Sylville Smith was fatally shot by a police officer and riots ensued. The officer was later acquitted.
One month after that shooting, New York-based Bucks President Peter Feigin called Milwaukee "the most segregated, racist place I've ever experienced in my life."
According to the Milwaukee Police Department's annual use-of-force analysis, Taser usage spiked in 2016. That year, 169 incidents involving Tasers were reported (up from 65 in 2015).That number dropped to 128 in 2017, the most recent data available.
The Bucks played the Nets later on Jan. 26. Before that game Brown told reporters the situation was "being handled."
"I'd appreciate if y'all would respect that right now," Brown, who is African-American, told reporters. He had bruises on his face.
There were concerns about the footage, and the way the public would react, before it was released. At a news conference Monday, Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett warned that it is "disturbing."
The police department already is bracing for blowback. According to WITI-TV, assistant police chief Michael Brunson Sr. was visiting churches for an annual event last weekend and asked one congregation for "support" after an unspecified video is released. On Tuesday, the department released a three-minute video featuring Morales called, "A Message to the Community."
"I will defend our officers when they are right and will admit when members of our organization are wrong," Morales said in the video. "So if there is ever an incident where one of our members makes a mistake, unnecessarily escalating a situation, I am going to be honest and transparent about it."
During his news conference Monday, Barrett said the Morales video was not related to the incident with Brown.
Brown was drafted by the 76ers in the second round out of SMU last summer and traded to the Bucks. He averaged four points and 2.6 rebounds this season.
(c)2018 the Chicago Tribune