A professional basketball player for the Houston Rockets has settled a police-brutality lawsuit for $750,000. How did Sterling Brown, a 6-5 fourth-year guard from Southern Methodist University, run afoul of the Milwaukee PD while a member of the NBA's Milwaukee Bucks? It started with some careless parking on Brown's part and turned into a physical confrontation. From a report at CNN:
On January 26, 2018, Brown was tased by police and wrestled to the ground by several officers after an officer said he had parked across two handicapped spots at a drugstore. Brown was never charged with a crime.Body-cam footage (see video above) reviewed by CNN showed a Milwaukee police officer stepping on Brown's ankle during his arrest, while others mocked Brown and any potential civil rights complaint he might make.
The Milwaukee Bucks issued a statement last November supporting Brown's commitment to use the "horrifying abuse and injustice" as a catalyst to make change in the community. Brown now plays for the Houston Rockets.The Milwaukee Police Department referred CNN to the joint statement between the city and Brown.
The issue of excessive force by law enforcement hits close to home here at Legal Schnauzer. As long-time readers likely know, deputies in Greene County broke my wife Carol's arm during an unlawful eviction in September 9, 2015. We filed a civil-rights/personal injury lawsuit in the Western District of Missouri on Sept. 4, 2020, meeting the state's five-year statute of limitations for such claims. Several factors have delayed the complaint, but we hope the drawn-out process starts gaining momentum shortly. One of the main delays came from the Greene County Sheriff's Office (GCSO) bringing false charges against Carol for "assault on a law enforcement officer," which she had to fight for the better part of three years. The GCSO's own documents show there was no probable cause to bring the charge, much less to take it to trial, but Sheriff Jim Arnott caused the bogus charge to be brought, likely because he was on the scene and knew one of his officers had injured Carol -- a classic "cover charge" in the vernacular of those who know the ugly secrets of American cops.
Being a world-class athlete might have helped Sterling Brown escape more serious injury. From CNN:
NBA player Sterling Brown's $750,000 settlement was approved Tuesday by the City of Milwaukee Common Council following a lawsuit stemming from a 2018 altercation where he was tased, tackled, and stepped on by city police officers.The former Milwaukee Bucks player brought a civil rights lawsuit in federal court claiming Milwaukee police used excessive force in violation of the Fourth Amendment, according to a letter from Milwaukee's Office of the City Attorney to Milwaukee's Common Council.The Common Council approved the resolution authorizing the settlement 14-0 on Tuesday, with one abstention, according to the council website.The settlement did not admit that Brown's constitutional rights were violated but the city and police department issued an apology."The City of Milwaukee and MPD apologize for the encounter and actions between Mr. Brown and MPD officers on January 26, 2018," Brown and the city said in a joint statement. "The City further recognizes that the incident escalated in an unnecessary manner despite Mr. Brown's calm behavior."The statement said the officer who initiated the incident has been reassigned from patrol responsibilities. Additionally, body-camera footage of the encounter is being used to train officers. The department will also work with Brown on community "education and outreach projects." The city is to prepare a revised anti-racist policing policy within the MPD, according to the statement.
What issues were at the heart of Brown's lawsuit? CNN reports:
The lawsuit filed on behalf of Brown in 2018 states the altercation began as he left a drugstore on January 26 and found an officer -- identified in the lawsuit as Officer Joseph Grams -- outside his car, which was parked across two handicapped parking spots.Grams allegedly asked Brown, who was 22 at the time, for his license before telling him to back up and shoving him. Brown responded by telling the officer not to touch him several times.
Several officers responded after Grams called for backup, according to the lawsuit and body-cam video released in the case.After three cars were seen arriving on scene, the officer walked up to them and said he only wanted one extra patrol. He also told one of his colleagues that Brown was getting in his face, the video showed.
At least one car left and others stayed before multiple officers gathered around Brown to ask him questions. At one point, an officer yelled at Brown to take his hands out of his pockets, and Brown said he had "stuff" in his pocket.Other officers grabbed the athlete and pulled him to the ground, before he was tased.According to the lawsuit, in addition to discriminating against Brown because he's Black and violating his rights by treating a parking violation as a criminal offense, officers also failed to read Brown his Miranda rights.Some officers turned off their body cams during parts of the confrontation, the suit said.The lawsuit alleged, among other things, unlawful arrest, excessive use of force and violation of the 14th Amendment's Equal Protection Clause. It also accused the officers of collaborating to conceal their actions.The Milwaukee Police Association initially defended the officers who arrested Brown in 2018, calling use of force "a necessary component of policing" and slamming city leaders for failing to defend the officers.After the body-cam footage was released to the public, the union softened its tone and said it welcomed "appropriate review and oversight" of the matter.After the incident, two sergeants were suspended without pay -- for 10 and 15 days, respectively -- for "failing to be a role model for professional police service."One other officer was also suspended for two days for "failing to treat a member of the public with courtesy and professionalism." Eight others were scheduled to receive remedial training in professional communications, officials said in 2018.