Black family held at gunpoint in Colorado gets $1.9M settlement

Black family held at gunpoint in Colorado gets $1.9M settlement

A Black lady who was forcefully pulled from her automobile with her teenage family by Aurora, Colorado, police settled for $1.9 million after police incorrectly assumed she had stolen it.

In 2021, Brittney Gilliam sued the city and police for searching her and her family at gunpoint without reasonable cause or proof. She claimed in the lawsuit that they were targeted for being Black.

Attorney David Lane, representing the family, said Tuesday that he believes the deal will affect how law enforcement handles similar instances.

Aurora police need to spend less time at the shooting range and more in the law library. "We hope police officers nationwide learn to use common sense, especially when dealing with children," Lane wrote via email. "A robo-cop mentality will lead to huge liability."
He added: "We suspect blatant racial stereotyping in this case. When a vehicle's passengers' race draws weapons, a boundary is crossed that will have terrible ramifications for the police."

City spokesman Michael Brannen stated, "The Aurora Police Department remains committed to strengthening the relationship with the community through accountability and continuously improving how it serves the public."

The family had "Sunday Funday" in August 2020. Her 17-year-old sister, 6-year-old daughter, and 12- and 14-year-old nieces went to get manicures and ice cream with Gilliam. According to the lawsuit, the group sat in Gilliam's car to find another manicure parlor after it closed.

Police approached the van and ordered everyone out, the lawsuit alleged. The complaint claims Gilliam, her sister, and her 12-year-old niece were shackled. The complaint claimed that cops forced Gilliam's 6-year-old daughter and 14-year-old niece to lift their wrists over their heads with their faces on the sidewalk because the shackles were too wide.

The suit claims the family was kept for two hours before a sergeant arrived. Social media users shared witness footage of the interaction.

The Aurora Police Department earlier stated they stopped Gilliam because her car had the license plate of a stolen motorbike. Police then discovered the motorbike had out-of-state plates.

The complaint claims the four girls needed weekly treatment since the incident was upsetting.

Lane said Tuesday that the family was satisfied with the settlement sum and grateful the girls did not "relive this nightmare" in court. The youngsters, who won't be paid until 18, are "still skittish around police but otherwise fine," the attorney added.

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