Police in Aurora, Colorado have issued an apology after several Black girls and the woman with them were held and forced to lay on the ground as a stolen car incident was investigated.
According to the Denver Post, a cellphone video shows the girls who ranged in age from 6 to 17 in a parking lot being detained by officers. As they are being held, they are shown screaming in fear and crying. At least two of them are handcuffed.
Brittany Gilliam, told local station KUSA-TV that she was driving her younger sister, daughter and nieces, to get their nails done, but the salon was closed. Realizing this, they returned to their vehicle. Soon after, Aurora police approached their car with weapons drawn believing they had found a stolen car, which had been reported taken earlier this year.
According to police officials, a motorcycle with the same license plate number but from Montana was actually the vehicle reported stolen. Gilliam was upset that cops took it to a point where the girls were treated like car thieves.
“There’s no excuse why you didn’t handle it a different type of way,” Gilliam told KUSA. “You could have even told them ‘step off to the side let me ask your mom or your auntie a few questions so we can get this cleared up.’ There was different ways to handle it.”
In a statement, Aurora police said officers are trained to for a “high risk stop” when investigating stolen vehicles and that involves stopping the car, taking out weapons and having the occupants lie down on the ground.
But police chief Valerie Wilson said the department would review the practice and decide on new training for such situations. She also said she called the family and personally apologized.
“I have called the family to apologize and to offer any help we can provide, especially for the children who may have been traumatized by yesterday’s events. I have reached out to our victim advocates so we can offer age-appropriate therapy that the city will cover,” she said.
Aurora Police have already been facing scrutiny over the death of Elijah McClain, a 23-year-old Black man, who died last summer after officers placed him in a chokehold. That case is being reinvestigated.
BET has been covering every angle of the police killings of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Rayshard Brooks and other social justice cases and the subsequent aftermath and protests. For our continuing coverage, click here.