Colorado police apologise for detaining mother and children

Cheryl Sanders
August 5, 2020

The Aurora Police Department has apologized for screwing up so egregiously that it could take years of therapy to undo the mental trauma they forced on a Black family incorrectly suspected of stealing a vehicle.

Colorado's Aurora Police Department recently launched an internal investigation after officers chose to draw their firearms on a local Black family and place young children in handcuffs during a weekend traffic stop that saw their auto mistaken for a stolen vehicle.

As Wilson mentioned in her statement, Gilliam's auto was flagged by a local license plate scanner that identified her vehicle as stolen.

Interim Aurora Police Chief Vanessa Wilson blamed the license plate reader, but could not explain why the dozens of officers who responded did not confirm the vehicle description.

She told local station 9News that she had taken her family to get their nails done before realizing the salon was closed. Gilliam said she, her sister and 17-year-old niece were handcuffed while police verified that the auto Gilliam was driving was not stolen.

Bystander footage has emerged on social media showing the moment Aurora Police officers in Colorado arrested a driver and a group of young girls in the parking lot of a thrift store on Sunday morning.

She says a police vehicle slowly pulled behind the family. "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".

A video has been doing the rounds where Colorado's Aurora Police Department officers can be seen handcuffing several children at gunpoint.

PIX11 adds: "Sunday's incident comes as the Aurora Police Department faces continued criticism over its handling of the death of Elijah McClain".

McClain's death was being revisited by officials after a petition called for another investigation. Cops then realized their mistake.

Wilson will continue to lead a department under scrutiny as communities around the nation reexamine the role and operations of police departments in the wake of George Floyd's death. Gilliam said she told them her vehicle has been stolen in February, but that it was cleared up.

Jennifer Wurtz, who shot the video, said on camera that the police drew guns as they initially approached the vehicle.

The department adds. "The confusion may have been due, in part, to the fact that the stopped vehicle was reported stolen earlier in the year". They said the misunderstanding may have also been in part due to the fact that Ms Gilliam's auto had been reported stolen earlier in the year. "But we must allow our officers to have discretion and to deviate from this process when different scenarios present themselves", Wilson said.

"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", Wilson wrote. The tactic involves cops drawing their weapons and ordering all occupants to exit the vehicle and lie on the ground.

"The confusion may have been due, in part, to the fact that the stopped auto was reported stolen earlier in the year", a statement said. She said she had directed her team to look into new practices and training as a result of what happened.

McClain suffered a heart attack while in an ambulance and was declared brain dead three days later, the district attorney said in a letter.

Wilson said one of the photos shows the officers smiling while appearing to reenact the way McClain was held in a chokehold.

Aurora city councilors were scheduled to vote Monday night on who should become the next police chief.

Police put him in a chokehold that cuts off blood to the brain and paramedics injected him with ketamine, a sedative.

Other reports by iNewsToday