Black Family That Was Handcuffed After Being Wrongfully Suspected of Riding in Stolen Vehicle Sues Aurora, Colo., Police

Zack Linly
·3 min read

In August of last year, a Black family was stopped by police in Aurora, Colo. Four Black girls—children and teenagers, ages 6, 12, 14 and 17—were ordered out of their vehicle at gunpoint and made to lie on the ground while officers handcuffed the 12- and 17-year-olds and all of them screamed and cried in terror. The cops were called to investigate a stolen vehicle—a motorcycle with Montana plates. Instead, they stopped an SUV with Colorado plates. The police department apologized to the family, but the officers were cleared of all wrongdoing and were not disciplined.

Aurora, Colo., Police Apologize After Handcuffing and Detaining Black Children Wrongly Suspected of Riding in Stolen Car

Now, the family is telling them all to say “I’m sorry” with their wallets as a lawsuit was filed Monday against the city, the police chief and five police officers involved in the stop.

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According to the Denver Post, the lawsuit alleges that one officer attempted to handcuff the 6-year-old as well, but the handcuffs were “too big to fit around her wrists.” It also alleges that the Aurora Police Department has inadequate training, that the officers had no probable cause to stop the family and that the police department has a history of racism and police brutality. (This is a good time to mention that this is the same police department that brutalized Elijah McClain ultimately causing his death. Police officers from this department also mocked McClain’s death by reenacting the chokehold that led to his death while posing for pictures near a McClain memorial.)

As The Root previously reported, Brittney Gilliam—the driver of the SUV and mother of the 6-year-old, who was also handcuffed—had planned a day out for the kids. It was supposed to be a “Sunday fun day” of getting nails done and eating ice cream. Instead, it became another day of Black people being harassed and egregiously mistreated by police after two officers, Darian Dasko and Madisen Moen, reportedly “failed to check information they’d received from a license-plate reader that showed it was a motorcycle with Montana plates that had been reported stolen, not an SUV with Colorado plates. While the SUV had the same plate number as the stolen motorcycle, it was completely uninvolved,” according to the Post.

“There was no indication whatsoever that Ms. Gilliam and the girls posed any danger to [officers] or anyone else,” the lawsuit states. “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.”

NBC News reports that the lawsuit also alleges that the family was detained for two hours until a sergeant arrived and states that the “deplorable fact that multiple Aurora police officers held innocent Black children handcuffed and at gunpoint, and multiple other officers did not intervene, is evidence of the profound and systematic problem of racism and brutality within APD.”

From the Post:

The 18th Judicial District Attorney’s Office earlier this month cleared the officers of criminal wrongdoing, with Chief Deputy District Attorney Clinton McKinzie calling the incident “unacceptable and preventable,” but not criminal.

Two days after the incident, Wilson said it had been “done wrong,” and apologized, saying the officers made several errors.

The bungled stop drew national attention, and the lawsuit says that Gilliam and the children are all in therapy. Some of the children are struggling to eat and sleep, according to the lawsuit.

There’s a reason why I detest the Blue Lives Matter movement—I mean, besides the fact that it’s a racist and fragile response to Black Lives Matter. Cops don’t need anyone’s support; our justice system already works to protect them from the consequences of their actions. There are people sitting in jail and even prison right now who have done far less harm to fellow human beings than what those officers did to that family.

I hope they get all of their coins.