Milwaukee’s police chief apologized on Wednesday for the actions of officers involved in the January tasing and arrest of Milwaukee Bucks rookie Sterling Brown.
The department released body camera footage of the incident after a news conference in which Chief Alfonso Morales said officers were disciplined.
“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 Brown 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 how he parked the vehicle. 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 anyone,” 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
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.
On Sunday, Assistant Police Chief Michael Brunson spoke to parishioners about the release of unspecified video footage during a program for a nonviolence initiative at a Milwaukee church.
“There’s going to be a video that’s going to come out soon, in the next couple of weeks, involving the department,” said Brunson, according to CNN affiliate WITI. “And I’m going to be honest with you, we’re going to need your support during the challenges.”
According to a police report obtained by CNN affiliate WISN, Brown was aggressive when a police officer questioned him in a Walgreens parking lot and then resisted arrest.
The police report said 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. A passenger told the officer the driver was in the Walgreens, the officer wrote.
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 and he was taken to the ground in a controlled manner,” the arresting officer wrote in the report.
The officer said he tried to help his colleagues “because Brown continued to resist being handcuffed.”
“A Taser had to be 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.
The department said it decided not to present the case to the Milwaukee County District Attorney’s Office for charges.
Brown had a bruise and scab on his face before a game between the Bucks and the Brooklyn Nets that was played later on the day of his arrest, according to WISN.
By Emanuella Grinberg, CNN