The Aurora Police Department was forced to apologize on Monday evening, August 3, after a video showing officers handcuffing four black girls and making them lie on hot concrete went viral. Police said it was the result of a “misunderstanding.”
The troubling video shows the girls, all members of the Gilliam family, being forced to lie on the ground handcuffed. All are in an upset and agitated state. “I want my mother,” one of the girls cries.
Brittney Gilliam told 9NEWS she had taken her nieces, younger sister and daughter to get their nails done. The salon was closed so they got back in the car, at which point she said they were surrounded by police.
“There’s no excuse why you didn’t handle it a different type of way," Gilliam said regarding the police officers’ actions. “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.’”
In a statement, police said that officers were notified of a possible stolen vehicle, and that Gilliam’s vehicle matched the license plate number. In the subsequent traffic stop, they said, the occupants of the car were ordered out onto the ground, with some placed in handcuffs.
The officers determined the car was not stolen shortly thereafter.
“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,” said Interim Chief of Police Vanessa Wilson. “I have reached out to our victim advocates so we can offer age-appropriate therapy that the city will cover.”
Wilson said the officers were following procedure, but that the department would be looking at “new practices and training” following the incident. Credit: Jenni Wurtz via Storyful