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Lawsuits & Litigation

Milwaukee Bucks Guard Sterling Brown Sues City for Civil Rights Violations

— June 21, 2018

Milwaukee Bucks guard Sterling Brown is filing a lawsuit against the city of Milwaukee, claiming police violated his civil rights when they arrested him earlier this year.

The lawsuit, which Sporting News reports was filed Tuesday in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Wisconsin, names the city, Milwaukee police chief Alfonso Morales, and eight individual officers as defendants. Brown claims law enforcement tackled and tased him outside a local Walgreens in January.

Law enforcement were apparently investigating why Brown was double-parked in a handicapped spot when he was confronted by officers.

“Defendants violated Mr. Brown’s right to equal protection of the laws under the Fourteenth Amendment, by unlawfully discriminating against Mr. Brown on the basis of his race when they, among other things, instead of issuing a parking citation, they stopped and questioned Mr. Brown for an extended period of time about an alleged parking violation,” says the suit, “and then utilized unlawful and excessive force against Mr. Brown as they arrested Mr. Brown and further unlawfully detained him.”

Police bodycam footage shows a horde of officers surrounding the lone, unarmed man. As Sporting News notes, Brown appeared to be compliant—frustrated, but not belligerent, when he’s suddenly thrown to the ground and restrained.

“He was attacked—his neck grabbed, he was kneed in the groin, he was tased, handcuffed, left on the cold, wet pavement,” said Brown’s attorney, Mark Thomsen.

A member of the U.S. Military wields a hand-held Taser. Image via U.S. Military/Wikimedia Commons.

An officer purportedly stood on the basketball player’s ankle for two minutes afterward.

The Bucks guard was left on the ground for 12 minutes before being allowed back up. Recordings also show that at least one officer unholstered his weapon in the course of the scuffle, which arose from Brown putting his hands in his pockets.

Shortly after the footage was released, Morales apologized, saying members of his department “acted inappropriately and those members were recently disciplined. I am sorry this incident escalated to this level.”

Brown said he’s suing, in part, to find out what wrong—and to stop the same from happening to anyone else.

“My experience in January with the Milwaukee Police Department was wrong and shouldn’t happen to anybody,” Brown said in a May statement. “What should have been a simple parking ticket turned into an attempt at police intimidation, followed by the unlawful use of physical force […]

“This experience with the Milwaukee Police Department has forced me to stand up and tell my story so that I can prevent these injustices from happening in the future,” he said.

Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett issued his condolences, saying the responding officers’ behavior “has no place in our city.”

“As a human,” Barrett said, “I was offended by what I saw on the video.”


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