City of Milwaukee mulls $400,000 payout to settle Sterling Brown's lawsuit
Milwaukee — Milwaukee police officers have testified under oath in a lawsuit from Bucks player Sterling Brown that they violated his civil rights when they used a stun gun to arrest him over a parking violation last year, Brown’s attorney said Friday.
The comments from attorney Mark Thomsen came in response to a report from The Journal Sentinel saying the city’s attorneys want to offer Brown $400,000 to settle the lawsuit he filed accusing police of excessive force and targeting him because he’s black.
The Common Council had scheduled a vote on the proposed settlement on June 10.
Talking to reporters in front of City Hall, Thomsen appeared irked at the offer and the fact that he found out about it while deposing a police sergeant “who admitted under oath that he failed to protect Mr. Brown’s safety.”
“Several officers have admitted to violating Mr. Brown’s constitutional rights,” he said, referring to the depositions he’s taken for the lawsuit.
Thomsen said Brown has not seen the offer and they haven’t discussed it.
Brown, 24, illegally parked in a disabled spot outside a Walgreens on Jan. 26, 2018, and was talking with a group of officers while waiting for his citation when the situation escalated. Officers took him down and used a stun gun because he didn’t immediately remove his hands from his pockets, as ordered.
Police Chief Alfonso Morales announced last year in May that 11 of the officers involved in Brown’s arrest were disciplined or retrained. Morales also said he had apologized to Brown for the officers’ behavior. One officer who was at the scene of the arrest but not involved in it was fired for racist social media posts about the incident.
Brown did not ask for a specific monetary amount in his lawsuit. His attorney said when he filed the lawsuit that more than money Brown wanted “the city (to) actually admit to the wrongs, admit that his constitutional rights were violated.”
But Thomsen said the city is still unwilling to do that, noting that a witness designated to speak on behalf of the city in a deposition denied that Brown’s civil rights were violated. Thomsen said that until there is that admission, “We’re not really talking money.”
Thomsen also said what’s important to Brown is that the department enacts reforms.
“Mr. Brown said I want to help change what happens on the streets with every person in Milwaukee,” Thomsen told reporters.
Police have said they have enacted several reforms since Brown’s arrest, including more training for officers on fair and impartial policing.