This is an excerpt from the chapter entitled "The Police: A Black and White Experience":
Audit the Audit is a YouTube site that posts videos that “examine the right and wrong of police interactions” and explores “the laws, regulations, and violations showcased in first amendment audits, police interactions, and legislation.” In most cases, as in this one, the footage is from the police officer’s body camera. The video host intermittently pauses the video and shows how the officer in this video goes against the “guiding principles” of his department and against the department’s nationally acclaimed “de-escalation” training.
In the video, the host says “that Milwaukee officers go through over 1,000 hours of de-escalation training, yet Officer Grahams places the burden of de-escalation on Mr. Brown through his excessively hostile conversational tactics and confrontational body language. Mr. Brown has made no hostile gestures toward officer Grahams and has provided him with the information in a frustrated but peaceful way.”
Though Mr. Brown asks twice if this can be settled with a ticket, Officer Grahams detains him and indicates that maybe more than a simple citation will be the result. Moments later, other police cars arrive, and Officer Graham's demeanor and tone change, and he lies to one of the officers and says, “I’m trying to get on the horn and cancel all this.”
At this point in the video, I became very tense. One cop car arrives with sirens blazing. Then another arrives. Mr. Brown is stuck standing there, but the manner in which the other cars arrive gives me cause for concern as I have watched so many of these videos end up in violence and or death. Officers from several squad cars surround Mr. Brown and take him to the ground. In the end, the police did not charge him with a crime or issue him a citation. Though this is Milwaukee, Mr. Brown’s treatment by the police is consistent with the 2016 research cited previously in New York.
A little more about Mr. Brown: he was driving a very nice Mercedes and wearing an expensive chain and dressed very well. Who is he? At the time, he was an NBA guard for the Milwaukee Bucks. He sued the city. The city took disciplinary action against eight officers, suspending three. One of the officers was fired for posting racially charged things on social media, in which he also boasted about his role in the confrontation. Though the city offered Sterling Brown a $400K settlement, it did so in such a way that it would only “name the city” and “absolved the individual officers for their roles in the encounter.” (Audit the Audit, 2019) Mr. Brown’s attorney said that they would refuse to accept any offer that did not contain an apology from the officers involved.
It stood out to me that Officer Grahams took no notice of the way Sterling Brown was dressed or what he was driving. From my vantage point, Officer Grahams treated him on his status as a black man without respect to how he presented himself or what he was driving.
At one point in the conversation, Officer Grahams says, “I don’t know who you are,” as he demands that Sterling Brown tell him who he is even though he has Mr. Brown’s driver’s license in his hand. I can’t say that at that point, I wouldn’t have said, “I play for the Bucks.” Unfortunately, from watching the video, I don’t think it would have mattered as the officer was on such a power trip.
Here is Sterling Brown’s account:
“Former SMU guard Sterling Brown spoke out on his 2018 encounter with Milwaukee police in an essay published by The Players Tribune on Thursday.
Brown was arrested on Jan. 26 of that year after illegally parking his car at a Walgreens. Brown, a member of the Milwaukee Bucks, had a stun gun used on him, and Brown said an officer kneeled on his neck.
The arrest was caught on police body cameras, and led to the officers being punished. One of the officers was fired. Brown filed a lawsuit, and said in the article that he rejected a $400,000 settlement offer.
‘I rejected the offer because I have a responsibility to be a voice and help change the narrative for my people,’ Brown wrote. ‘In order to do so I have to tell my story, so dialogue and conversations about police brutality can help influence and change a corrupt system. It goes deeper than me just illegally parking.’
Brown, who played at SMU from 2013-17, wrote that an officer escalated the situation by shoving him as he opened his car. Then six more cars arrived after the officer called for backup.
‘One of the officers had a knee on my neck,’ Brown wrote. ‘Another stood on my ankle. The cop who tased me had initially pulled his gun.’
Brown spent the night in prison. He said another man was brought into the jail that night with injuries. He was telling everyone that he’d only had a traffic stop.
‘Eventually they put me in the back of the cop car and took me to the police station, where I was thrown in a cell for a few hours,’ Brown said. ‘For what? Because I was a black man with a nice car in the hood.’
He told his story now amid an ongoing national Black Lives Matter movement. He spoke about how the world wouldn’t have believed him and wouldn’t have had sympathy for George Floyd had it not been for video evidence.” (Blum, 2020)
Audit the Audit sums it up nicely with this quote:
“If an incident like this can happen to a high profile celebrity and result in a lack of accountability in yet another city insulating its officers from their wrongdoings, then it can happen to anyone.” (Audit the Audit, 2019)
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