The Milwaukee Police Department has apologized to NBA player Sterling Brown after officers tasered and arrested the athlete over a parking issue in January.
Milwaukee Police Chief Alfonso Morales said in a news conference Wednesday that the officers involved “acted inappropriately” after the Milwaukee Bucks rookie allegedly parked across three lanes in a Walgreens parking lot on Jan. 26.
“I am sorry this incident escalated to this level,” Morales told reporters, adding that the officers “were recently disciplined.”
The ordeal began around 2 a.m., and video of the incident released Wednesday showed an officer approaching Brown, then 22, and asking for his driver’s license. The officer appeared to move closer to the athlete before pushing Brown and telling him to “back up.”
Brown is heard responding, “Hold on, don’t touch me.” The officer is heard calling for back up before saying, “I’ll do what I want. I own this right here.”
Brown eventually produced his driver’s license, and soon several more officers arrived at the scene. At least four officers surrounded Brown at his vehicle. Brown and the officers are shown speaking calmly until one officer suddenly yelled, “Take your hands out of your pockets now!”
The cops are then shown tackling Brown to the ground and the athlete is heard grunting after one of the cops deployed a stun gun. Later in the video, an officer is heard saying that Brown was tasered for not stepping back, “being an a–” and “trying to hide something.”
Brown was arrested at the scene but never charged, Morales told reporters, per ESPN.
The video of the incident quickly sparked public outrage, and Brown has vowed to take legal action against the department.
“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,” Brown said in the statement posted on the team’s Twitter account.
Statement From Sterling Brown: https://t.co/mkcM0Dbklr
— Milwaukee Bucks (@Bucks) May 23, 2018
“This 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.”
In the wake of the video’s release, several basketball players have voiced their support for Brown with the #StandWithSterling hashtag, including Bucks players Thon Maker and D.J. Wilson, as well as New York Knicks center Enes Kanter.
it’s sad and pathetic for racial discrimination to still exist, let alone within those who are here “to serve and protect” #StandWithSterling
— D.J. Wilson (@Lanky_Smoove) May 23, 2018
I’m with you brother @thatnegus_sb
In case anyone forgot, this is why @Kaepernick7 was kneeling.
— Enes Kanter (@Enes_Kanter) May 24, 2018
Time to build, NOT break! #StandwithSterling https://t.co/RTHCTYQKpO
— Thon Maker (@ThonMaker14) May 24, 2018
This incident is the latest in a string of high-profile police misconduct cases involving the Milwaukee Police Department.
Last year, the city paid a $2.3 million settlement to the family of Dontre Hamilton, a mentally ill black man shot 14 times by a police officer who woke him from a park bench. In 2016, Milwaukee paid $5 million in a lawsuit after police illegally strip-searched more than 70 black residents over a four-year period, according to the Associated Press.
Earlier this month, authorities began investigating four officers involved in the violent arrest of a black man, who was kicked and punched while being held down, the AP also reports.