By Ken Reed
Milwaukee Bucks player Sterling Brown is suing the city of Milwaukee, its police chief and eight police officers involved in a parking ticket altercation back in January. Brown, who’s African-American, was tased and arrested in the incident. He was issued a parking citation but wasn’t charged with a crime.
Milwaukee Police Chief Alfonso Morales has apologized for the officers’ behavior, saying they acted “inappropriately.” Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett said, “No citizen should be treated this way.”
Brown’s lawsuit alleges unlawful arrest, excessive use of force and violation of the 14th Amendment’s Equal Protection Clause. It also claims the officers involved collaborated to conceal their alleged inappropriate actions. Brown also claims the officers involved inappropriately treated a parking violation as a criminal offense.
“For too long, African-American men have been arrested and abused and killed as a result of bad police work,” said Brown’s attorney, Mark Thomsen. “That work is a stain on this city and an insult to good police officers in this city and county.”
Milwaukee police were slow in releasing video of the incident, taken from officers’ body cams. Ultimately, there were two sets of footage released. The second set shows an officer stepping on the subdued Brown’s ankle during his arrest, despite his legs lying motionless on the ground after he was tased. It also shows other officers mocking the NBA player, according to a CNN report.
Following an internal affairs investigation, two sergeants were suspended without pay for “failing to be a role model for professional police service.” Another officer was suspended for “failing to treat a member of the public with courtesy and professionalism.” Eight other officers are scheduled to receive remedial training in professional communications.
“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,” according to a statement released by the Milwaukee Bucks.
That’s a key takeaway from this unfortunate incident. If a professional athlete is treated this way, with body cams rolling, one can imagine how an average African-American — who isn’t a public figure — might be treated by police, especially if no body cams are involved.
— Ken Reed, Sports Policy Director, League of FansPrint
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League of Fans is a sports reform project founded by Ralph Nader to fight for the higher principles of justice, fair play, equal opportunity and civil rights in sports; and to encourage safety and civic responsibility in sports industry and culture.
A League of Fans Special Report