Police in Aurora, Colorado, are coming under fire after a viral video showed officers detaining a Black family — including children as young as 6 — and forcing them to lie on the pavement as the kids screamed in terror, over what the department now says was a case of mistaken identity.
The incident took place on Sunday as members of the Aurora Police Department stopped what they believed to be a stolen car in front of a thrift store just before 11 a.m. As 9 News noted in a report on Sunday, they claimed that the license plate matched one for another vehicle and stopped the family, forcing the adult driver and young children to the ground while placing many of them in handcuffs, including at least two of the children.
The driver, Brittney Gilliam, said she had taken her nieces, younger sister, and daughter to a spa to have their nails done but they returned to their vehicle when they realized that the salon was closed. The report noted that officers had mistaken her vehicle for a different one that had been listed as being stolen.
“He’s like something about the car being reported stolen,” Gilliam said in an interview with 9 News. “And I’m like ‘this happened months ago, you guys cleared it we got to pick up the car the next day the very next day so I’m not understanding what’s going on.'”
She told the outlet that there was “no excuse” for them to be treated that way, saying that the Aurora Police Department could have simply spoken with her to clear up the incident rather than forcing everyone to the ground.
9 News reported that the officers on the scene eventually took the handcuffs off them and apologized, but the video has sparked outrage across the internet. The video generated viral interest on Monday, with many sharing it and calling for the police involved to face consequences.
Aurora PD handcuff and held family at gunpoint. Including a little girl with a pink crown. https://t.co/cQILKvM2J2
— zellie (@zellieimani) August 4, 2020
The Aurora Police Department has been under fire for a series of controversial incidents, including the death of Elijah McClain, a 23-year-old Black man who was stopped last year and detained. As The New York Times reported, members of the department were later fired after photos showed them mocking McClain’s death at a memorial for him held as part of the rising protests after the killing of George Floyd.
The report noted that Gilliam is now represented by David Lane, a prominent Denver lawyer who is also representing McClain’s family. It was not clear if she had filed suit against the Aurora Police Department.