MILWAUKEE -- Milwaukee Bucks guard Sterling Brown sued the city of Milwaukee and its police department Tuesday, saying officers' use of a stun gun during his arrest for a parking violation constitutes excessive force and that they targeted him because he is black.
Brown's attorney Mark Thomsen filed the lawsuit in federal court, accusing police of "discriminating against Mr. Brown on the basis of his race." The lawsuit alleges that officers involved in his arrest used their incident report to try to reframe what happened to give the impression Brown resisted and obstructed them.
"Mr. Brown hopes that instead of the typical denial of the claims ... the city actually admit to the wrongs, admit that his constitutional rights were violated," Thomsen said at a news conference outside City Hall after filing the lawsuit.
Brown had been talking with officers while waiting for a citation for illegally parking in a disabled spot outside a Walgreens at about 2 a.m. on Jan. 26. Body-camera video shows that Brown never appears to threaten police during his arrest, but officers took him down because he didn't immediately remove his hands from his pockets as ordered. An officer yelled: "Taser! Taser! Taser!"
Newly released footage shows one of the officers drawing his gun for a brief moment.
"That gun could have gone off, and it would be a whole different story," Thomsen said.
Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett said in a statement that he hopes something good comes from 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," he said.
Police Chief Alfonso Morales has not responded to an Associated Press request for comment.
Morales apologized to Brown last month when body-camera video of the arrest was released. Brown wasn't charged with anything, and three officers were disciplined, with suspensions ranging from two to 15 days.
Eight other officers were ordered to undergo remedial training in professional communications.
A group of officers discussing the arrest shortly after it happened talked about "trying to protect" themselves from possible backlash over their confrontation with an NBA player and synchronized "their stories concerning what took place in the parking lot," the lawsuit said.
Some of the details from their report made it into Morales' written complaint about the officers' actions, according to the lawsuit, with the chief saying Brown "refused to comply with a directive to remove his hands from his pockets and became resistive towards officers."
One officer, Erik Andrade, reacted to the arrest with glee, according to the lawsuit, which showed screenshots of his Facebook posts about the incident.
"Nice meeting Sterling Brown of the Milwaukee Bucks at work this morning! Lol #FearTheDeer," one post read, referencing a slogan used to cheer on the Bucks at games.
Also, after JR Smith's blunder at the end of regulation in Game 1 of the NBA Finals, Andrade made reference to the incident with Brown when he posted about Smith. Andrade wrote: "I hope JR Smith double parks in Walgreens handicap Parkin spot when he's in Milwaukee!"
"Defendant Andrade's post is an admission that he and other Defendant officers are allowed to engage in unlawful attacks of African Americans without justification and then relish such events without any fear of real discipline," the lawsuit states.
Police have released only the body-camera video of the first officer who contacted Brown. But additional body-camera and squad-car videos showed the moments after officers used a stun gun on him. In one, Brown is on the ground and handcuffed when an officer puts one of his boots on Brown's ankle, holding it there. Brown doesn't mention being in any discomfort, but he questions the officer's actions.
"C'mon man, you're stepping on my ankle for what?" Brown said. In response, the officer said he was trying to prevent Brown from kicking anyone.
Other videos showed an officer talking with two colleagues seated in a squad car. They talked about how they could be perceived as racist for arresting a black Bucks player, with one saying that if anything goes wrong, it "is going to be, 'Ooh, the Milwaukee Police Department is all racist, blah, blah, blah.'"
Brown told the Journal Sentinel in an interview last month that he "gave in" when police used a stun gun and that he didn't do anything to resist because he didn't want officers to "pull out their guns."
"I was just being smart. I just wanted to get out of the situation and get home," he said.
Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.