The Aurora Police Department in Colorado is apologizing after a video was posted online showing officers with their guns drawn as five members of a Black family, including a 6-year-old girl, lie face down in a parking lot.
The department says the officers mistakenly thought the family was in a stolen car. The incident took place on Sunday, with Brittany Gilliam telling CBS Denver she was sitting in the car with her 6-year-old daughter, 12-year-old sister, 14-year-old niece, and 17-year-old niece when a police officer approached. "He proceeded to handcuff me and I saw him handcuff the kids, so I started getting angry, why are you handcuffing kids," she said. Video shows Gilliam, her sister, and her 17-year-old niece in handcuffs, with the entire family face down on the asphalt and one of the children screaming, "I want my mother!"
The police department said Gilliam's car had the same license plate number as a suspected stolen motorcycle they were looking for — except Gilliam's plate wasn't from the right state. This was considered a "high-risk stop," Interim Chief of Police Vanessa Wilson said in a statement, and protocol calls for officers "drawing their weapons and ordering all occupants to exit the car and lie prone on the ground."
Wilson said the department will now look into enacting new practices and training for high-risk stops, and while Gilliam, who plans on filing a federal lawsuit against the department for excessive force, wants to see "better protocol," she is mostly worried about her daughter, sister, and nieces. "Those kids are not okay," she said. "They're never going to be okay. That was a traumatic experience. Would your kids be okay after that? Having a gun pulled on them and laid on the ground. Especially a 6-year-old."
The Aurora Police Department is already under scrutiny following last year's officer-involved death of Elijah McClain, a 23-year-old unarmed Black man who was detained as he walked home from the store. He died after being placed in a chokehold and injected with ketamine.
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