NBA player Sterling Brown files federal civil rights lawsuit over stun-gun arrest

Milwaukee Police Dept.
Milwaukee Police Dept.

(MILWAUKEE) — Milwaukee Bucks player Sterling Brown has filed a federal civil rights lawsuit against the city of Milwaukee and multiple local police officers after they used a stun gun on him during his arrest earlier this year.

Brown’s attorney, Mark Thomsen, alleged racially based excessive use of force during the Jan. 26, 2018 incident, which took place in a Walgreens parking lot. The NBA player, who was unarmed, was confronted by officers for parking in spots reserved for people with disabilities.

“He was attacked — his neck grabbed, he was kneed in the groin, he was tased, handcuffed, left on the cold, wet pavement,” Thomsen said at a news conference Tuesday.

An officer then stood on the NBA player’s ankle for over 2 minutes and Brown was left on the ground for 12 minutes, Thomsen said.

Thomsen called the alleged bad police work a “stain” on the city and an “insult” to “good” officers.

“This kind of conduct must stop,” Thomsen said. “Mr. Brown would hope that the city would act swiftly and that when he hits the floor this next season in our new stadium, that we celebrate that Milwaukee is an example to the country of what a city can do to turn itself around.”

Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett said in response to the lawsuit, “I’m hopeful this incident will be a turning point and allow us to take those actions necessary to improve police community relations.”

Neither the Milwaukee Police Department nor the union represented its officers immediately responded to ABC News’ request for comment about the lawsuit, which was filed Tuesday in U.S. District Court.

Brown, 23, is asking for unspecified compensatory and punitive damages

Milwaukee police last month released video from the incident, which shows an officer’s waiting by Brown’s car in the drugstore parking lot.

Brown’s car was parked horizontally across two parking spots reserved for people with disabilities.

When Brown left the drug store, the officer asked him why he parked that way. The officer repeatedly told Brown to “back up,” before telling him, “I will do what I want, all right? I own this right here.”

In the video, other officers arrived and can be seen talking to Brown near his car when one of them shouted for Brown to take his hands out of his pockets.

A scuffle broke out and an officer repeatedly yelled, “Taser!” as Brown can be heard moaning on the ground.

One of the officers briefly took his gun out of his holster during the confrontation, new body-camera footage released by Thomsen shows.

Sgt. Sheronda Grant of The Milwaukee Police Department said per their standard operating procedure, “Police members may draw or display their firearms in circumstances where they reasonably believe it may be necessary to use their firearm in the performance of their duties.”

The NBA player was arrested on a possible misdemeanor charge of resisting or obstructing an officer, but after police reviewed the confrontation — including the body camera footage — they declined to refer the case to prosecutors for charges. Ultimately, Brown was cited for a parking violation.

“I was defenseless,” Brown told “Good Morning America” co-anchor Robin Roberts last month. “Whether I park illegally or not… it shouldn’t have led to what it led to.”

The Milwaukee Police Department later apologized to Brown and announced that three of the officers involved were disciplined.

Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett said the officers’ behavior “has no place in our city.”

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

The Milwaukee Fire and Police Commission has called for an extensive review of the incident.

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