On Wednesday, the city's police department released a video of Milwaukee Bucks' Sterling Brown getting tased and arrested. Along with the body cam footage, the Milwaukee police chief apologized for the incident and promised that officers involved in the arrest will be disciplined. Brown, an NBA rookie, was arrested on January 26 for allegedly becoming aggressive during a confrontation about a traffic violation. The officers then proceeded to tase and handcuff him, in a series of actions that the chief of police is now admitting were entirely inappropriate. Brown was never charged with anything.
Today, Brown released his full statement on the Milwaukee Bucks website, explaining that his "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."
According to CNN, the initial reason for the start of an internal investigation of the arrest was one telling detail: Brown was never charged with a crime, which seemed strange given his arrest and subsequent jailing. In the body camera footage, Brown is repeatedly questioned by an officer immediately upon leaving a Walgreen's at night.
"Are you obstructing me?" The officer asked at one point, saying, "I just told you to back up." Brown obliged. At one point, The New York Times noted that (despite Brown not raising his voice or attempting to resist officers) a police officer said, "I own this right here," to which Brown responded, "You don't own me."
The entire video is 30 minutes long, and might be upsetting for some people to watch, as it includes footage of his tasing.
In Brown's statement, he noted the prevalence of "racism towards the minority community", and pointed out that situations like his happen every day. Brown said,
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. There are no easy solutions to this problem, but there are strides that can be made to create change. I will do my part in helping to prevent similar incidents from happening to the minority community in the future.
According to The New York Times, Brown was briefly jailed without being charged with a crime. And at his next NBA game the following day, there were visible bruises on his neck and marks on his face.
In the press conference on Wednesday, Chief Alfonso Morales apologized for the behavior of the officers and said they were being disciplined appropriately, CNN reports.
"The department conducted an investigation into the incident which revealed members acted inappropriately and those members were recently disciplined," Morales said, according to CNN. "I am sorry this incident escalated to this level."
In addition to Brown's own statement, the Bucks gave a public statement as an organization, in which full support was given to Brown, as well as a call to action for more accountability from the police force:
"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."
"Unfortunately," the statement continued, "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."
The statement ended on a positive note, with the organization noting the efforts that it would make to "build on work with local leaders and organizations to foster safe neighborhoods and better our community."