The household is suing Aurora Police for a botched response to stolen automobiles that resulted in kids being handcuffed and held at gunpoint – The Denver Submit
A black woman and four children held at gunpoint when Aurora police officers mistakenly believed they were in a stolen vehicle sued Aurora City, Chief Vanessa Wilson and five police officers on Monday, claiming the officers were out of court Reasons for their actions.
The video of the incident on August 2 shows the children aged 6, 12, 14 and 17 lying face down in a parking lot screaming in fear when the police ordered the 12-year-old and the 17-year-old handcuffed everyone at gunpoint from the SUV.
An officer also tried to handcuff the 6-year-old girl, according to the complaint, but the handcuffs were “too big to fit around her wrists.”
The family had done nothing wrong. Driver Brittney Gilliam had planned to spend a day with the kids, with plans to do her nails and then eat some ice cream, according to the court case. The nail salon she was going to visit was closed when they arrived so she had stopped in the parking lot to look for another location nearby.
The police officers who mistakenly believed the car was stolen – Darian Dasko and Madisen Moen – were unable to verify the information they received from a license plate reader that it was a Montana license plate motorcycle, that had been reported stolen, rather than an SUV with Colorado plates on it. The SUV had the same registration number as the stolen motorcycle, but was completely uninvolved.
“There was no evidence that Ms. Gilliam and the girls were a threat to (officials) or anyone else,” the lawsuit said. “On the contrary, it was the (officers) who put an innocent woman and four children at risk of harm by holding them at gunpoint, handcuffing and searching them, and permanently traumatizing them.”
The lawsuit alleges that the Aurora Police Department is insufficiently trained, that the officers had no likely reason to stop the family, and that the Police Department has committed racist acts and police brutality in the past.
The 18th district attorney’s office cleared officers from criminal offenses earlier this month. Assistant District Attorney Clinton McKinzie described the incident as “unacceptable and avoidable” but not as criminal.
Two days after the incident, Wilson said it was “done wrong” and apologized for the officers making several mistakes.
The botched stop attracted national attention, and the lawsuit says Gilliam and the children are all in therapy. Some of the children have difficulty eating and sleeping, according to the complaint.