Colorado cops detained a family of Black people at gunpoint Sunday, forcing the mother and children to lie facedown on the ground after determining they were in a car that had been reported stolen.
After all, Aurora police say, the car’s license plate number confirmed it was stolen.
It was only later that cops realized the license plate number of the car in question matched an out-of-state license plate of a stolen motorcycle, a detail that initially went ignored, leading to the detainment of the family.
A video recorded by a witness shows some of the children crying as police force them all on the ground. The four children are aged six, 12, 14 and 17. All four were forced on the ground with at least two placed in handcuffs.
Adding to the confusion was that the car’s owner, Brittney Gilliam, said it has been stolen in February but was recovered the following day, so she was thinking that was the reason they were being detained at gunpoint.
According to 9 News:
Brittney Gilliam, who identified herself as the driver, told 9NEWS she had taken her nieces, younger sister and daughter to get their nails done, and when they realized the salon was closed, they got back in their car. That’s when she said police surrounded their car with guns drawn.
APD said a motorcycle with the same license plate number from a different state was actually the vehicle reported stolen on Sunday morning.
“He’s like something about the car being reported stolen,” Gilliam said. “And I’m like ‘this happened months ago, you guys cleared it we got to pick up the car the next day the very next day so I’m not understanding what’s going on.'”
Gilliam said her car was stolen back in February but was found the next day.
APD said confusion may have come from the fact that the vehicle mistakenly stopped was reported stolen earlier this year.
“There’s no excuse why you didn’t handle it a different type of way,” Gilliam said about APD. “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.”
Aurora Police Chief Vanessa Williams apologized but said police were only following their “training” which tends to leave very little room for common sense. So now, they will be subjected to further training.
“We have been training our officers that when they contact a suspected stolen car, they should do what is a called a high-risk stop,” she said. “But we must allow our officers to have discretion and to deviate from this process when different scenarios present themselves. I have already directed my team to look at new practices and training.”
The family has retained the law firm representing the family of Elijah McClain, the 23-year-old Black man killed by Aurora police last August after he was confronted for wearing a mask in public while walking home from the store. McClain would wear the mask because he was anemic and needed to keep his face warm.