Black woman and four children mistakenly held at gunpoint suing Colorado police
A Black mother and her four children who were held at gunpoint after police officers mistakenly thought they were in a stolen vehicle are suing the city of Aurora, Colo., the chief of police and the officers involved, The Denver Post reported.
Brittney Gilliam and her children, aged 6, 12, 14 and 17 at the time of the incident, were all ordered out of Gilliam’s SUV at gunpoint on Aug. 2 by Aurora police officers. Officers Darian Dasko and Madisen Moen believed the car was stolen after failing to read the license plate reader that stated it was a motorcycle that had in fact been reported stolen.
“There was no indication whatsoever that Ms. Gilliam and the girls posed any danger to [officers] or anyone else,” said Gilliam’s suit. “On the contrary, it was the [officers] who placed an innocent woman and four children at risk of harm by holding them at gunpoint, cuffing and frisking them and leaving them permanently traumatized.”
Gilliam’s car reportedly had the exact same license plate number as the stolen motorcycle but was entirely uninvolved with it, according to the Post. Gilliam and her children were forced to lie on the ground with their arms handcuffed behind them. The officers attempted to handcuff her 6-year-old child, but the cuffs were too big.
Gilliam alleges in her lawsuit that the Aurora Police Department has insufficient training, that the officers had no probable cause to stop her family and that the Aurora Police Department has a history of racism, the Post reported. According to the lawsuit, she and all her children are all in therapy due to the incident, with some children struggling to eat and sleep.
As the Post noted, the officers were cleared of all criminal wrongdoing earlier in January. Chief Deputy District Attorney Clinton McKinzie acknowledged that the incident was “unacceptable and preventable” but found it was not criminal.
Aurora Police Chief Vanessa Wilson acknowledged that the officers had made multiple errors and stated that things had been “done wrong.”
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