Milwaukee police on Wednesday released body camera video of the arrest and tasing of Sterling Brown as the department’s chief apologized for the incident.
Members of the force were disciplined, Chief Alfonso Morales said at a news conference.
“The department conducted an investigation into the incident which revealed members acted inappropriately and those members were recently disciplined,” Morales said, without taking questions. “I am sorry this incident escalated to this level.”
Police previously said that the Milwaukee Bucks rookie was tased and arrested on January 26 after he became confrontational over an alleged parking violation. Brown was not charged with a crime as a result of the incident, which prompted an internal affairs investigation.
In the video, an officer repeatedly questions Brown about his identity and why he parked his car in front of a Walgreen’s. Brown answers that and other questions. Several other officers arrive. At one point, an officer demands Brown take his hands out of his pockets, and other officers grab the athlete and pull him to the ground, before he is tased.
“My experience with the Milwaukee Police Department was wrong and shouldn’t happen to anybody,” Brown said in a statement Wednesday. “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.”
Brown said he chose to speak up about the incident on behalf of Laquan McDonald, Stephon Clark and others in the black community who have died in encounters with police.
“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. The lack of repercussions for the police officers involved in so many of these cases is offensive. This is a slap in the face to the victims’ families and communities,” he said.
“Black men shouldn’t have to have their guard up and instantly be on the defensive when seeing a police officer, but it’s our reality and a real problem. There must be mutual respect and both sides have to figure out how to accomplish this.”
Concerns over what the footage shows
The Milwaukee Bucks called the actions of police shameful and inexcusable and said Brown has the team’s full support.
“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,” the team said in a statement.
“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.”
Mayor Tom Barrett expressed concerns Monday over what he had seen in the video.
“I’m going to let the release of that speak for itself, but yes, I definitely have concerns after watching that video,” the mayor said, according to CNN affiliate WTMJ.
According to a police report obtained by CNN affiliate WISN, the arresting officer wrote that he was conducting a business check at a Walgreens around 2 a.m. when he saw a vehicle illegally parked horizontally across two handicapped parking spaces.
The driver, described as a tall black male, approached him “and stood within arm’s reach,” the officer wrote. The officer said he “repeatedly” asked Brown to step back but Brown refused.
“Brown became very aggressive,” said the officer, who called for another squad car.
As a sergeant who arrived interviewed Brown, he “physically resisted officers attempts to handcuff him” the arresting officer wrote in the report. “He was taken to the ground in a controlled manner.”
The officer said he tried to help his colleagues “because Brown continued to resist being handcuffed.” A Taser was “employed to get Brown in control with handcuffs,” according to the arresting officer.
Police said Brown resisted or obstructed an officer, which is a misdemeanor, according to the report. He was later seen at a hospital, the report said. He was booked, issued a parking ticket and released from the Milwaukee County Jail, WISN reported. Brown was not criminally charged after police authorities reviewed reports and body camera footage, the department said.