Milwaukee Bucks player Sterling Brown filed a civil rights lawsuit Tuesday against the city of Milwaukee and its police department, claiming that he was unlawfully arrested and that cops used excessive force when he was tased in the parking lot of a Walgreens earlier this year.
“For too long in this city, African American men have been arrested, abused and…killed as a result of bad police work,” Brown’s lawyer, Mark Thomsen, said in a Tuesday press conference.
At about 2 a.m. on January 26th, Brown parked his loaner Mercedes-Benz in a handicapped spot and walked into a Walgreens. But instead of being issued a citation, Brown ended up getting tased and arrested for the parking violation.
“While in complete physical submission laying on the ground with the officers on top of him, Mr. Brown feared for his life,” states the lawsuit, which names the Milwaukee police chief and eight officers. Brown was briefly put in jail, but never charged with a crime.
The lawsuit includes several social-media posts from one of the officers involved in Brown’s arrest, Erik Andrade, who openly mocked the basketball player after the encounter.
“Nice meeting Sterling Brown of the Milwaukee Bucks at work this morning! Lol#FearTheDeer,” he wrote in one Facebook post.
Andrade joked about the incident again when Cleveland Cavaliers player J.R. Smith made a gaffe during Game 1 of the NBC finals.
“I hope JR Smith double parks in Walgreens handicap Parkin [sic] spots when he’s in Milwaukee!” the cop wrote on Facebook, according to the court papers.
The officer also shared racist memes, including one that juxtaposes a photo of NBA star Kevin Durant with an image of an ice cream cone covered with chocolate chip sprinkles, according to the lawsuit. “Damn.....more naps than a preschool! Lmao,” Andrade wrote in the post.
According to the court papers, Brown was originally approached by officer Joseph Grams, who questioned him in the Walgreens parking lot, shoved him, and called for backup. Brown was later surrounded by six officers and forced to the ground, the complaint states. Sergeant Sean Mahnke ordered someone to tase Brown, at which point Officer Bojan Samardzic shouted, “Taser! Taser! Taser!” and used his stun gun on Brown’s back, according to the lawsuit.
“I’m sorry this incident escalated to this level,” Milwaukee Police Chief Alfonso Morales later said at a press conference. The department also released body-camera video of the incident, which captured “Mr. Brown’s agony while thousands of volts of electricity shot through his body,” the suit says.
Mahnke was suspended for 15 days, Officer Jeffrey Krueger was suspended for 10 days, and Samardzic was suspended for two days following the incident.
A spokesperson for the Milwaukee Police Department did not immediately return a request for comment. A representative for the Milwaukee city attorney's office declined to comment.