The Aurora Police Department (APD) is under fire after officers were caught on video detaining a black family – a driver and multiple young children – at gunpoint after a vehicle was mistakenly identified as stolen Sunday morning.
Video shows over a dozen officers conducting a traffic stop, ordering the adult driver and four children, ages 6-17, out of the SUV. Officers handcuffed at least two of the children with their hands behind their backs and face down on the hot parking lot pavement.
In the video, the children and the adult driving the car can be heard crying and screaming.
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.”
After realizing their mistake, officers unhandcuffed everyone, apologized and explained the situation.
The family asked to make a complaint, so a lieutenant responded to the scene to handle the request, APD said.
“It’s like they don’t care,” said 14-year-old Teriana Thomas. “Who am I going to call when my life is in danger?”
An internal investigation has been opened, according to APD.
“The Aurora Police Department understands that this is concerning and traumatic for those involved and we again offer our apologies,” APD said in a statement.
Aurora PD handcuff and held family at gunpoint. pic.twitter.com/GkTWKFZqkI
— Joshua Rodriguez (@Joshuajered) August 3, 2020