Milwaukee’s chief of police said officers “acted inappropriately” during a January arrest of Bucks guard Sterling Brown, that included use of a stun gun, and apologized to the NBA player.
Chief Alfonso Morales’ apology came as the department released body-camera footage of the arrest, which occurred around 2 a.m. on Jan. 26 in a Walgreens parking lot. Brown was tased and arrested during a routine parking violation, Morales said. No charges were ever filed against Brown.
“The department conducted an investigation into the incident, which revealed members acted inappropriately and those members were recently disciplined,” Morales said at a brief news conference Wednesday.
The video released by police shows an officer pulling up to a Mercedes sedan parked horizontally across two handicapped parking space outside the drug store. As the officer gets out of his cruiser and approaches the car, Brown can be seen walking out of the Walgreens and towards him.
The officer asks Brown for his driver’s license and then repeatedly tells him to "back up" from the car, video shows.
"For what? I ain't did nothing," Brown responds.
The conversation between the two is testy. The officer notes that "everything I'm doing is on camera," and points to the recording device on his chest. Brown asks the officer not to touch him, to which he responds: "I'll do what I want, I own this."
"You don’t own me,” Brown says in the video.
Several more officers respond to the parking lot. The situation escalates when one of the officers asks Brown to take his hands out of his pockets.
“I’ve got stuff in my hands,” Brown says.
Several officers are then seen swarming Brown, and one yells "Taser, Taser, Taser" before a pop is heard. Brown is heard groaning on the ground, but is not clearly visible from the camera's viewpoint.
Later in the video, after officers used the stun gun, Brown can be heard speaking to someone off-camera, telling them "they tased me for no reason." An officer talking to a colleague about what happened says "he was being an a-- and trying to hide something."
"And now he's like, 'I'm a Bucks player, blah, blah, blah. So what," the officer said.
Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett told the Milwaukee Journal Sential Tuesday, a day before the video was released, that what he saw was "disturbing" and the actions of officers in the video was "disconcerting."
The Milwaukee Bucks signed the 6-foot-6 guard from Southern Methodist University last summer in a deal with the Philadelphia 76ers.
Brown issued a statement on the NBA website saying what happened to him 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," he wrote. "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."
Brown said situations like his happen in the black community every day. He said police rarely see any reprecussions for inappropriate actions.
"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," he said. "There must be mutual respect and both sides have to figure out how to accomplish this."
Morales described a similar hope for officers and citizens treating one another with respect.
“When I took office, I vowed to rebuild trust between the Milwaukee Police Department and the community,” he said. “We are doing that.”
Morales said the department has hundreds of interactions with citizens each day that end positively.
In his statement, Brown called for a peaceful response to the video from the community.
"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," he said.
He also said he would take legal action against the Milwaukee Police Department.
Brown mentioned by name black men who were killed by police officers across the country in high-profile cases, including Laquan McDonald who was killed by Chicago police in 2014.
"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," he said. "These people aren’t able to speak anymore because of unjust actions by those who are supposed to “serve and protect” the people.