A Wisconsin television news station uncovered more footage from the Milwaukee Police Department’s controversial arrest of Milwaukee Bucks rookie Sterling Brown this past January, and it does no favors for the half-dozen officers currently defending themselves against accusations of racism and brutality.
The latest videos from WISN-TV show one officer needlessly stepping on Brown’s ankle while he is pinned face down on the asphalt and handcuffed. Other officers express concern about their actions only after realizing the “media firestorm” they were sure to create because Brown plays for the Bucks. And to put a cherry on top of these shameful videos, another officer laughs about their use of a Taser while singing The O’Jays’ “For the Love of Money” on a call requesting overtime pay.
In other words, while a white police officer was brutalizing a black man, his fellow officers were plotting their defense against racism, all while they wanted overtime for this police work. This is disgusting. It is vile. And it captures everything that is broken with a system that former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick was trying to warn us about by kneeling more than a year ago.
‘You’re stepping on my ankle’
In one two-minute clip posted by WISN-TV, an officer is seen stepping on Brown’s ankle after he was Tased and tackled, while another presses his cheek firmly into the Walgreens parking lot pavement.
“You’re stepping on my ankle, for what?” asked Brown, whose ankles are his livelihood.
“So you don’t kick us,” the officer said.
“I ain’t got no reason to kick y’all, man,” added Brown. He made no attempts to kick the officers.
That’s when another officer asked, “Are you a Bucks player, man?”
‘Are you a Bucks player, man?’
And that’s the moment you know just how horrible their actions are, because that’s the moment they start to realize that they might not be able to get away with the same brutality they can with someone who doesn’t play for the Bucks, someone who wouldn’t have the same mouthpiece as an NBA player.
We know this because another WISN-TV video showed this exchange between three officers:
“The bureau is coming out for this?”
“We’re trying to protect ourselves.”
“Because he’s a Bucks player?”
“Because he plays for the Bucks, if he makes a complaint, it’s going to be a [expletive] media firestorm.”
“And then any little [expletive] thing that goes wrong is going to be, ‘Ooh, the Milwaukee Police Department is all racist … blah, blah, blah.'”
Two things we learned from this exchange: 1) These officers do not believe the bureau would be concerned with their behavior if Brown was a black man who did not happen to play for the Bucks, and 2) If you’re a police officer who is trying to protect yourself from the bureau coming out to question you about racism, you’re probably being racist. Again, this is sickening footage to watch.
‘Taser, Taser, Taser’
Somehow, it gets worse.
After a handful of officers Tased Brown, tackled him to the ground and stepped on his ankle for illegally parking in an empty Walgreen’s parking lot around 2 a.m. on Jan. 26, one of the officers wanted to make sure he was getting paid extra for this excessive force, so he called from his car.
“Money, money, money,” he sang over the phone after Brown was taken to the hospital.
Asked about the Taser, the officer said, “I don’t have a Taser,” adding that it belonged to Officer Bojan Samardzic. “He was told to,” the officer added. “Sergeant [Sean A.] Mahnke said, ‘tase, tase, tase.’ We were fighting with him, and it wasn’t working. Sgt. Mahnke said, ‘Taser, Taser, Taser,’ so he Tased him.”
The officer imitated the sound of a Taser. He then laughed before getting off the phone.
Milwaukee police can’t get the story straight
Video released by the department late last month showed Officer Joseph Grams approaching Brown at his vehicle, which was parked across multiple handicapped spaces in an empty parking lot outside of a Walgreen’s in the middle of a late January night. Grams called for backup, harassed Brown and accused him of “getting up in” his face, which did not happen on camera. At least five more officers arrived on scene, where Brown was ultimately Tased and tackled despite no visual signs of resistance.
Police reports written in the aftermath of the incident did not reflect what took place on video. After being taken to the hospital to treat his injuries, Brown was booked into Milwaukee County Jail. He was never criminally charged. WISN-TV also just released photos taken by police of Brown’s injuries:
Milwaukee police first released footage of the incident four months later, when chief Alfonso Morales publicly apologized to Brown. “The department conducted an investigation into the incident which revealed members acted inappropriately, and those members were recently disciplined,” Morales said in a statement on May 23. The police chief added, “I am sorry this incident escalated to this level.”
Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett and the Bucks also issued condemnations.
Grams was suspended two days, Sgts. Mahnke and Jeffrey Krueger earned slightly longer suspensions, and several more officers were slapped on the wrist, per the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. No other disciplinary measures have been reported. The department has yet to name those involved publicly.
Meanwhile, the Milwaukee Police Association not only excused the actions of all officers involved — instead placing blame on Brown and city leadership for understaffing the department — but preemptively warned the public that “the death of subjects” may result from similar scenarios.
The Milwaukee Police Association, union for rank-and-file officers, has released a statement on the Sterling Brown video/arrest: pic.twitter.com/Jb5fV7SzxX
— Ashley Luthern (@aluthern) May 24, 2018
That was after footage showed the officers tackling and tasing Brown instead of issuing him a parking ticket and before more footage showed them stepping on his ankle, processing how racist and brutal their actions would appear on camera, and then laughing about it all while requesting payment for it.
Sterling Brown vowed to hold Milwaukee police accountable
When the first round of footage was released, Brown told the Journal Sentinel that he will file a civil-rights lawsuit against the Milwaukee police, and his statement via the Bucks charged the department with “police intimidation, followed by the unlawful use of physical force, including being handcuffed and Tased, and then unlawfully booked.” He likened the incident to others like it that occur every day.
“The common denominator in all of these situations has been racism towards the minority community, the abuse of power, and the lack of accountability for officers involved,” Brown said after the first video was released. “The lack of repercussions for the police officers involved in so many of these cases is offensive. This is a slap in the face to the victims’ families and communities.”
The underwhelming suspensions were reported a day later.
Brown then appeared on “Good Morning America,” recounting the incident, telling Robin Roberts his plans to hold the department accountable and vowing to share his story in hopes of giving voice to a pervasive problem, because others do not have the same platform — a reality the officers reinforced.
“This happens from coast to coast,” Brown told Roberts. “It’s something that’s being shown more now that technology has advanced. It’s something that’s been happening for years, and people’s stories have not been told, people’s stories have not been heard, and I feel like me doing this helps a lot.
“I feel like it’s my responsibility, and it’s something that I hold dearly.”
You better believe the latest footage from WISN-TV will not help the police officers’ cause in a lawsuit.
See this for what it is: Racial injustice
The NFL just outlawed the act of kneeling during the national anthem in protest of racial injustice and police brutality, and the President of the United States said the league did not go far enough, insisting that even those who choose to protest this systematic epidemic behind closed locker room doors maybe “shouldn’t be in the country.” Kaepernick is still without an NFL job after initiating the protests.
There are those that argued after the first round of footage was released that Brown would never have been Tased had he not parked illegally, had he cowered more at the officers’ command, had he taken his hands out of his pockets within a split second of their request, but if you think these officers acted appropriately after this latest round of footage, then you’re just not watching. And that’s exactly what the officers wanted when they conspired to protect themselves immediately after brutalizing Brown.
The police don’t want you to see this injustice. The NFL doesn’t want you to see the protests of this injustice. And the President of the United States doesn’t even want you in this country if you protest this injustice. The reason you’re seeing it now is because Sterling Brown plays for the Bucks. Don’t think for a second it’s not happening all the time. It’s disgusting, but you can’t turn a blind eye to it.
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