The Milwaukee Police Department apologized for acting “inappropriately” in a January incident in which officers used a Taser on Bucks rookie Sterling Brown and arrested him over an apparent parking violation. Milwaukee Police Chief Alfonso Morales said that officers were disciplined for their conduct in the incident. He appeared at a press conference Wednesday shortly after the release of the 30-minute body-camera footage of the January 26 encounter between Brown and several officers.
“My experience in January with the Milwaukee Police Department was wrong and shouldn’t happen to anybody,” Brown, 23, said in a statement released through the Milwaukee Bucks on 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. 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, who was not charged by police, said he plans to pursue legal action against the department to “continue forcing change in our community.”
The Bucks organization also issued a statement of its own in a strong show of support of the rookie guard: “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.”
Brown said he felt a responsibility to stand up against “unjust actions” because previous victims of police violence such as Eric Garner, Stephon Clark, Dontre Hamilton, and Laquan McDonald no longer can. “The common denominator in all of these situations has been racism towards the minority community,” Brown said, “the abuse of power, and the lack of accountability for officers involved.”
At around the eight-minute mark of the footage of the incident, Brown reacts to a Milwaukee Police officer reaching toward his leg asking him to take his hands out of his pockets. Brown says he’s holding something, and a number of officers respond by surrounding him and then forcing him to the ground. An officer then yells out “Taser!” multiple times, and Brown can be heard grunting immediately after.
On the same day that the NFL unanimously approved a policy requiring players to “stand and show respect” for the national anthem, the Bucks backed their player in the face of what the team views as racial injustice. Though the team, via the statement, said that it was grateful for police officers who protect the city, it also said “racial biases and abuses of power must not be ignored. … Incidents like this remind us of the injustices that persist.”
Brown echoed the team: “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.”