Milwaukee's police chief apologized and said his officers "acted inappropriately" when they used a stun gun on Milwaukee Bucks star Sterling Brown. The department also released body cam footage of the incident from January.
“During the encounter, Mr. Brown was decentralized, Tased and arrested,” Alfonso Morales, the police chief, said at a press conference Wednesday.
"Our department conducted an investigation into the incident, which revealed members acted inappropriately, and those members were recently disciplined."
The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel identified the officer who confronted Brown as Joseph Grams, a former soldier, and said he was suspended for two days. At least two other officers were suspended, one for 10 days and another for 15.
The incident happened around 2 a.m. on January 26 in a mostly empty Walgreens parking lot. Brown left his Mercedes idling across parking lanes while he was in the store, the video released Wednesday shows.
When Brown exits the Walgreens, he is confronted by a Milwaukee police officer. The officer asks for Brown’s driver's license, tells him to “back up” and pushes him, the video shows. Brown replies, “Don’t touch me.”
The officer continues telling Brown to back away from his car, saying at one point, “I’ll do what I want, all right? I own this right here.”
The officer chides Brown for parking across parking lanes, instead of within them, and calls for backup “to figure out what we’re gonna do.” Several additional Milwaukee police officers descend on the scene, including a sergeant, and they surround Brown.
Then a voice is heard ordering Brown, “Take your hands out of your pockets, now!” and police swarm Brown, drop him to the ground and use a stun gun on him.
Later in the video, Brown says “They tased me for no reason” to someone out of view of the camera, prompting the officer who initially confronted him to say Brown “was being an ass” and “trying to hide something.”
“And now he’s like, ’I’m a Bucks player, blah, blah, blah. So what,” the officer says.
Brown was arrested but never charged.
Morales said Wednesday he was "sorry this incident escalated to this level."
“When I took office I vowed to rebuild trust between the Milwaukee police department and the community. We are doing that. I promise that when the department is involved in events of this nature, we’ll be honest about them, and we are," he said.
Morales did not identify the officers or say how they were disciplined, and he walked out of the press conference without taking questions.
Brown said in a statement Wednesday that his experience "was wrong and shouldn't happen to anybody."
"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," he said.
“Situations like mine and worse happen every day in the black community,” Brown added.
The Bucks issued a team 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," it said.
“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."
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