Milwaukee police chief apologizes for Sterling Brown's arrest, tasing
Milwaukee Police Chief Alfonso Morales apologized Wednesday for the actions of the officers who tased and arrested Milwaukee Bucks guard Sterling Brown in January.
Morales said the officers "acted inappropriately" and have been disciplined following an internal investigation into the incident. Body-cam video of what happened was released Wednesday.
In the video, Brown is seen surrounded by several officers outside his car. He is told by an officer to take his hands out of his pockets, and when he doesn't immediately, the officers wrestle him to the ground and tase him.
A handful of squad cars were at the scene by the end of the situation, which began with Brown calmly cooperating with the first officer to approach him.
"I am sorry this incident escalated to this level," Morales said in a statement. Morales did not take questions from reporters in attendance.
Brown plans to file a lawsuit against the Milwaukee Police Department as a result of the incident, he said as part of a lengthy statement he released Wednesday.
"My experience in January with the Milwaukee Police Department was wrong and shouldn't happen to anybody," Brown said. "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. 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.
"Situations like mine and worse happen every day in the black community," the statement continued, in part. .".. 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.
"This is bigger than me. My family, friends, legal team, Priority Sports, Milwaukee Bucks, the black community and the communities of all who stand against injustice plan to continue the fight. Peaceful support to ensure no further damage to our community is the only way to respond. 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. I will take legal action against the Milwaukee Police Department to continue forcing change in our community."
The Bucks also released a statement supporting Brown: "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.
"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.
"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. There needs to be more accountability."
Brown, then 22 and now 23, was arrested on Jan. 26 after police used a taser while Brown was being questioned by officers over a parking violation in a Walgreens parking lot. Brown was cited for a parking violation but not charged following his arrest.
The news of the suit came after Milwaukee mayor Tom Barrett said Monday he was concerned about public backlash that could emerge when the video of the incident was released to the public.
"I'm going to let the release of that speak for itself, but yes, I definitely have concerns after watching that video," Barrett told reporters Monday, adding that Morales felt similarly.
In a "Message to the Community" video Tuesday, Morales said he will support officers who make the right decision but won't hesitate to admit when officers are in the wrong.
"So if there's ever an incident where one of our members makes a mistake, unnecessarily escalating a situation, I'm going to be honest and transparent about it," Morales said.
"In those instances where we have made mistakes and are wrong, I'm sorry."
Brown signed with the Bucks last summer out of SMU as part of a deal with the Philadelphia 76ers, who took him with the 46th overall pick in the 2017 draft. He averaged 4.0 points and 2.6 rebounds this season in 54 games.
--Field Level Media