The ACLU of Colorado claims that two African-American men who were pulled over by police in Colorado Springs and taken into custody were victims of racial profiling. The group is representing Ryan and Benjamin Brown, the two men who were involved in the traffic stop on March 25th. The incident was recorded by Ryan Brown who was a passenger in the car driven by his brother.
In the video, Ryan Brown can be seen being pulled from the car by a police officer and then forced to the ground. The ACLU said that the police encounter “took place within a block of the brothers’ home and began over an apparent cracked windshield.”
The video emerged as police departments are under increased scrutiny following a series of deaths of unarmed black men at the hands of officers across the United States.
Benjamin Brown was ordered by police to exit the vehicle at Taser-point, immediately handcuffed, searched, held in the back of a police car, and finally issued a citation for an obstructed view, the ACLU’s Colorado chapter said.
Ryan Brown, the passenger, was dragged from the car, held at gunpoint, and now faces a criminal charge for “interfering with official police duties,” the group said.
In a statement, ACLU of Colorado Legal Director Mark Silverstein said, “What Ryan and Benjamin Brown experienced at the hands of the Colorado Springs police is sadly all too familiar for young people of color. No reasonable person could watch the video recording of the traffic stop and say that two white men would have been treated the same way.”
CBS News reported that police internal affairs investigators had “completed the initial fact-finding after the man who recorded the video filed a complaint and shared the video with police.” Lt. Catherine Buckley, a spokeswoman for the police department, told the Associated Press that “the supervisors of the officers involved, who remained on active duty, were now reviewing the case.”
Ryan Brown’s video shows that “Officer David Nelson didn’t answer repeated questions about why the brothers were being pulled over.”
It shows Benjamin Brown, who was driving, being patted down while in handcuffs. Then Officer Allison Detwiler opened Brown’s passenger door pulled him out of the vehicle with Nelson’s help, according to the video.
Benjamin Brown says he was sitting in the police car and watched police wrestle his brother to the ground at gunpoint…
Ryan Brown told AP the reaction he’s gotten from many has focused on why he didn’t hand over his identification right away when the officers asked for it. But police, he said, “can’t pull you out of a vehicle without stating a reason. They have rules and regulations they have to follow just like you and I.”
The Denver Post said that the “Colorado Springs police declined to comment Tuesday afternoon, saying Ryan Brown filed a complaint that triggered an internal investigation.”
Lt. Buckley said, “It would be premature to comment,” based on the “internal investigation ongoing.”
The Denver Post:
Benjamin Brown, who was watching from the back of the police car, feared that his brother was about to be shot.
“It seemed like forever,” Benjamin said in the ACLU release. “I was scared that the officer was going to pull the trigger.”
Silverstein said that the encounter looked like “racial profiling, a case of police investigating what African Americans call ‘driving while black.'” He said that “he couldn’t come up with a legitimate reason for police to handcuff and search Benjamin Brown after watching the video and reading the police report.”
Ryan Brown was reportedly “ticketed for resisting and interference with a public official.” His brother Benjamin “was ticketed for compulsory insurance and obstruction of view – a charge his brother believes is related to a cracked windshield.”