Footage of the Milwaukee Police Department’s January arrest of Milwaukee Bucks player Sterling Brown shows one of the officers officer pushed Brown back just seconds after meeting him.
Officers originally approached Brown at around 2 a.m. on Jan. 26, after they spotted a vehicle parked across two handicap spaces at a Walgreens, Milwaukee police said. As the body camera video released Wednesday evening shows, the NBA player exited the Walgreens and the officers, whose names have not yet been released, asked for Brown’s drivers’ license.
About eight seconds later, one police officer seemed to push Brown back a step. (The body cam footage is partially obstructed.) The officer demanded, “Back up. You don’t see the issue here?”
Later, the officer asked Brown, “Are you obstructing me? I just told you to back up.” After Brown took another step back, holding his arms out, the officer added, “I’ll do what I want, alright? I own this right here.”
Minutes later, at least three more cop cars rolled in, and at least four officers surrounded Brown, who was standing with his hands at his sides and without any apparent aggressive behavior. One shouted, “Take your hands out of your pockets now!”
Brown appeared to reply, then all the officers suddenly converged on him and pushed him to the ground.
“Tase him! Tase him! Taser! Taser! Taser!” an officer can be heard shouting, before Brown groaned.
In a police report written by an officer who arrested Brown, the officer alleged that the basketball player “became very aggressive,” and then “physically resisted officiers’ attempts to handcuff him and he was taken to the ground in a controlled manner,” according Milwaukee affiliate WISN.
In a press conference shortly before the video’s release, Milwaukee Police Department Chief Alfonso Morales told reporters, “I’m sorry this incident escalated to this level. … When I took office, I vowed to rebuild trust between the Milwaukee Police Department and the community. I promise that when the department is involved in events of this nature, we will be honest about them, and we are.”
Officers involved in the incident were disciplined, Morales said. He then left the conference after refusing to take questions from reporters, who, at that point, would have had no way to view the video.
Police arrested Brown on a possible misdemeanor charge of resisting or obstructing an officer, according to the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel. Officials declined to press criminal charges after an internal review, during which they watched the body camera footage, and cited Brown only for a parking violation.
In their attempts to brace the public for the video’s release, Milwaukee officials hinted that the video may trigger backlash. “I'm going to let the release of that speak for itself, but yes, I definitely have concerns after watching that video,” Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett said Monday.
“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 in a statement after the video’s release. “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.”
Brown plans to take legal action against the Milwaukee Police Department.